The 33 Buckets story
33 Buckets began working in 2010 as a student project at Arizona State University. 7 years later, we've grown to provide safe water for a lifetime to thousands of people in 3 countries. We have recently established 33 Buckets Foundation, a partner 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and are expanding to more than double our number of communities served by the summer of 2018.
Building a social entrepreneurial project is not an easy endeavor, but it is an incredibly humbling, rewarding experience. Here is the story of how several engineering students decided they wanted to make a difference in the lives of others across the world and, over the course of several years, creating a solution to empower people across the world to solve global water issues.
a water project is born
2010 - 2014
Enamul Hoque, the founder of the Rahima Hoque Girls' College in rural Bangladesh, approached Arizona State University's Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program for support in providing clean drinking water to his school. Five students - Pankti Shah, Varendra Silva, Paul Strong, Mark Huerta, and Connor Wiegand - launched the team to design a technical solution to the school’s water issues. In 2012, the goal of filtering arsenic (atomic number: 33) one bucket at a time would inspire the team's name: 33 Buckets.
On our initial assessment trip to Bangladesh in 2012, we were able to better understand the real problem behind lack of access to safe drinking water. Technical solutions for purifying water are already available around the world. However, a lack of startup capital, technical knowledge, and local management structures prevents them from reaching those who need them most.
We pivoted our focus from creating a technological solution to an innovative, disruptive clean water distribution model. 33 Buckets worked over the next 2 years to research and develop this new model around three concepts: Sustainable Design, Business Infrastructure, and Education.
Our first project completion!
2014 - 2015
Four team members of 33 Buckets (Mark Huerta, Paul Strong, Vid Micevic, and Shardul Golwalkar) traveled to Bangladesh in December 2014 to complete the water project that had started four years ago. A community Water Advisory Committee was formed, a filtration system was installed in partnership with the Green Dot Corporation in Dhaka, a housing building was constructed, and storage containers were delivered. Additionally, the school begun to generate revenue through water sales. This revenue stream will be used to maintain the system for a very long time and to improve the education at the school. The team left extremely inspired and humbled by their experience. They will never forget all of the beautiful souls they met that made the trip so special.
As of October 2017, the water project continues to serve 900 students at the Rahima Hoque Girls' College and thousands more in their families, neighboring schools, and the surrounding community of Baher Char. The College has since received government support and funding in part because of its tireless commitment to provide safe drinking water to its students and community.
Reaching Peru and the Dominican RepubliC
2015 - 2016
The team returned from Bangladesh excited and inspired to reach thousands more people across the world. Co-founders Mark Huerta, Paul Strong, Swaroon Sridhar, and Vid Micevic incorporated 33 Buckets later that year. Our team soon connected with two partners for two new water projects: Schools for Sustainability (S4S) in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic, and The Green Program in Huillcapata, Peru.
After securing funding from the Pakis Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, the team set out to implement the two projects in the summer of 2016. In Peru, 33 Buckets opened its second clean water franchise on June 8th, 2016. In the Domincan Republic, the team was challenged to adjust to the community's needs and launch with a scaled-down business model. Local engineers and contractors created a "casita" to protect the water filter and allow community members would bring their own containers to fill.
Expansion and A new era
2017 - beyond
33 Buckets is currently working to build on these two pilot projects and greatly expand its reach. In the summer of 2017, we assessed the water situations of 7 communities near the cities of Cusco, Trujilo, and Chimbote in Peru, and identified 5 potential project sites. Our team is working to follow up and launch franchises at several of these sites in the summer of 2018.
We plan to grow our organization exponentially and implement over 100 sustainable community water projects over the next 5 years, starting in Peru and moving outwards to other countries. In pursuit of this goal, we established a partner organization, 33 Buckets Foundation, with a 501(c)3 charitable status in October 2017. We were also featured by Arizona State University in a commercial that aired during Super Bowl LI in the state of Arizona. View our commercial below to hear Director of Programs Mark Huerta's story of joining 33 Buckets: