Millions of people around the world lack access to clean water, for reasons including physical shortages as well as poor infrastructure and governance. Global warming will only exacerbate the situation as droughts and flooding become more common. By 2030, 40% of the world’s population will not be able to meet their water needs. Yet global water demand is expected to increase 55% by 2050, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
The water imbalance is drawing new investor interest. “Companies alleviating water scarcity will be good investments” in the decade ahead, UBS Global Wealth Management’s Solita Marcelli told CNBC’s Closing Bell in late December.
L’eau and behold: Paris-based CityTaps recently raised €2.2 million to help utilities bring running water to urban households in developing countries. After a pilot in Niger, CityTaps is launching its smart metering system, CTSuite, in the Kenyan city of Malindi, and expects to expand country-wide in 2021. Singapore-based family office Inheritance Enterprises and the Vitol Foundation, as well as existing investors, backed the round.
Other signs of the growing interest:
Clean water. In India, where 21 major cities are expected to run dry this year, Aquvio raised a pre-Series A last July to provide purified water to schools, hospitals and government agencies. Beneficial Returns last summer provided debt financing to Guatemala-based Ecofiltro and Indonesia-based Nazava, which make low-cost water filters for home use.
Infrastructure. In Cambodia, Khmer Water Supply Holding snagged a (KWSH) $500,000 loan from Nexus for Development to expand small-scale water infrastructure.
Wastewater. Fidelity launched a Sustainable Water and Waste Fund in the U.K. after its Luxembourg-based water fund surpassed $1 billion in just over a year. KKR is investing in wastewater treatment facilities to better monitor and remove harmful nutrients (see, Water Detox: Why KKR is investing in wastewater treatment to manage ‘nutrients”).