Central Ohio companies large and small are coming together to make daily life easier for women and children in developing countries. The PackH2O water backpack eases the burden of carrying large containers of water by creating a sealable pack to be worn on the back.
It’s easy for Columbus residents to help those a half a world away. Through the website, users donate money in $10 increments, each equating to the money needed for one pack. The company then aggregates the money until they have enough funding to build a container-load of the packs. Each container can hold over 20,000 packs. The packs are then produced in Turkey and distributed to developing countries.
“The real obligation we have is to people in developing countries that don’t have a tap,” Sommers says. PackH2O has shipped their product to over 20 countries on all sides of the globe, including the Philippines, Kenya and Guatemala.
Pack H2O partners with non-government organizations to determine where the product would be most useful. They work with groups like Habitat for Humanity that guide them to the regions most in need, while also utilizing the support that Habitat has on the ground to help with product training.
Finding water in developing countries normally means carrying rigid, hard plastic containers, buckets, jerrycans, gas cans or other pots on the head or in the hands. PackH2O is designed to be worn on the back with women and children in mind, as they are most often the ones gathering water. For this reason, PackH2O focuses on product education.
“There is a cultural bias,” Sommers says. “It hasn’t been done that way before.” There is a natural buy-in to the idea that takes time.
Education also covers the three main benefits of the product design.
“Not only is it a transportation device,” Sommers says, “But it keeps water cleaner.” The closed container is more sanitary than many of the open devices used to carry water. The pack has a wide mouth for water intake, while the other end has a spout that acts as running water. The spout turns the pack into a distribution device.
As for reception, Sommers says that PackH2O is, “Widely accepted as an improved system.”
PachH2O has been helping people in developing countries carry water more efficiently since February of 2012.
The idea started with the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. David Fisher, CEO of Greif – the world’s largest industrial packaging goods company – toured the ravaged country and saw survivors carrying water with whatever they could find. Fisher then vowed to create a better product and began a two-year period of development and research.
PackH2O was born through a partnership between Greif and NCT Ventures. Although an international company, Greif is headquartered just south of Delaware. Greif CEO and NCT Ventures CEO had previously worked together on other projects before coming together on PackH2O.
Each play an important role in the partnership. Greif manufactures the packs, along with research and design, while also leveraging their connections to bring attention to the product. NCT Ventures owns the PackH2O company and focuses on the marketing and logistics. They are responsible for getting the pack in the hands of people who need it.
Of the partnership, Sommers says, “We’re trying to do something good as a group and put Central Ohio on the map at the same time.”
For more information, visit packh2o.com