Hot Off The Press: Clean Water Entrepreneurship Program in Ghana Earns Prestigious Support for Saha Global’s Co-Founder

Clean Water Entrepreneurship Program in Ghana Earns Prestigious                  Support for Saha Global’s Co-Founder

$100,000 Fellowship Grant Awarded to Boston Visionary Kate Cincotta

BOSTON, MASS. (Issued Fall 2016)  — Dagomba people in the African country of Ghana use the Dagbanli word saha to mean ‘opportunity.’

A major opportunity to use this word in the country’s rural areas the arrived with the launch of  Saha Global ( in 2008. Co-founded by Kate (Clopeck) Cincotta and fellow MIT graduate Vanessa Green, Saha Global’s frontline work is entirely in Ghana. A small Boston staff handles volunteer recruitment and fundraising.

Saha provides cheap, clean drinking water to people living in rural communities by training women how to take advantage of the resources available to them and donating the capital that they need to start a clean water business. To date, Saha has launched 93 water businesses in Ghana. 100% are still in operation.

The Vision: A Better Life for Children

In recognition of her work, the Mulago Foundation of San Francisco chose Cincotta to join its  prestigious Fall 2016 Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program where participants “focus on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them. Saha is receiving two $50,000 grants — a total of $100,000 over two years. Founded in 1993, Mulago carries on the work of pediatrician/philanthropist Rainer Arnhold, “to bring a better life for children in poverty… (to support) organizations that tackle a basic need of the very poor, have a scalable solution, and know how to deliver it.” That’s exactly us!” smiles Cincotta, pointing to the organization’s motto, ‘Solving problems with opportunities.’

The course brought Fellows and faculty together for an intensive week to work on design for maximum impact and scalability. Held in Bolinas, California, the course gave Fellows the rare opportunity to focus completely on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them.

What caught the attention of Mulago?  Cincotta says it’s Saha’s 100% success rate, simple approach, and commitment to long-term monitoring and evaluation. 

Creating A Permanent Source of Clean Water

Cincotta says, “Saha is the first water organization selected by Mulago for the Fellows program. We both believe that Saha cannot only serve the poorest of the poor, but we also have the potential to scale. The key is simplicity. Our water treatment centers use all locally available, affordable, low-tech products. It costs Saha less than $12 to provide a permanent source of clean water to one person. Other organizations average around $20 – 25 per person.”

Reflecting on the course, Cincitta says, “Mulago is different than any other funder we’ve had. They are a true partner in every sense of the word. They want to work with us to help us grow and achieve maximum impact, and understand that there will be challenges along the way.”

She adds, “We’re really proud of the impact we’ve had so far: Over 45,000 people in Ghana now have permanent access to safe drinking water.” But there are 800,000 in Northern Region Ghana who still lack access to clean water. Fueled by its partnership with Mulago, Saha’s goal is to rapidly scale in northern Ghana, doubling its impact by 2018, to reach over 400,000 people in the next 5 years.

Still Facing Tough Challenges

Saha Global certainly chose two of Ghana’s toughest challenges: (1) There’s a very high risk of food or waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever; and (2) The biggest single economic issue is the lack of consistent electricity. Things are improving, though average life expectancy is just 66 years, per capita income is $4,300, and the 2015 inflation rate was 17%.

Green and Cincotta understood that the water needs in Ghana were not due to a lack of technical solutions. “We knew the challenge lay in the implementation of those solutions in the field. We developed a durable implementation model, community-scale, low-tech, social enterprise approach that formed the foundation of Saha Global’s model.” They raised funds to pilot the idea from the Public Service Center at MIT, then headed back to Ghana in 2008 to found Saha Global.

In another project, Saha is helping local entrepreneurs use solar energy to light lanterns so children can study at night, and to charge cell phones – also for a small profit.

Twice each year, Saha Global recruits and trains scores of college students in social entrepreneurship. Volunteers spend three weeks in Ghanaian villages helping to set up micro-businesses. In each village, the community designates two women to learn how to chlorinate water and sell it to fellow villagers for a small profit.

College students interested in being Field Reps in Ghana can learn more at the Saha Global website. Saha Global also seeks individual donations, Corporate Partners and Field Rep Sponsors. For more info, email or visit  As a 501(c)(3) organization, donations are tax-exempt to the extent allowed by law. Donations may be made online or via check made out to Saha Global, and mailed to 26 West Broadway #302, Boston, MA 02127.

Monitoring Updates From Eda

Despa!! I’m currently sitting in the Saha office on a rainy Monday morning. Most days we’d be out monitoring right now, but the downpour is keeping us inside. We gave it our best shot, heading out at 6:30am only to make it to the other side of Tamale before we were soaked through. It doesn’t help much to put a rain jacket on after the rains begin, and motos don’t offer any rain protection, so back to the office Wahab and I drove! Tomorrow we will try again!


The few weeks since the Global Leadership Program ended have been an adventure. Thus far, I’ve gone monitoring with Eric, Shak, and am now starting to monitor with Wahab. Katie and I are spending a week with each full time staff to really understand how things run around here.

Eric monitors Vogyili, the community I implemented a water business in as a field rep. It was fun to monitor and see how well they were doing, especially considering they now have a solar business too. Eric also monitors five of the nine new water businesses from this summer’s GLP. All five (Kanjeyili, Baayili, Dawunyili, Mahamuyili, and Kpingiyili) are doing well!



A few surprises occurred when Shak and I visited Yakura. The first of which was the small lake that greeted us on the road into the village. We weren’t sure we could make it through on the moto, but a man passing by on a bicycle assured us it wasn’t that deep. However, he was taking a back route that wasn’t moto friendly to avoid the puddle, so we were on our own. I decided to let Shak ride alone, and I would walk though the puddle rather than risk a swim were the moto to tip. Thankfully, the man was right and we made it through without (many) problems, but I am glad I walked!



In Yakura I also saw Mary, one of the women entrepreneurs from my time in Vogyili. We were walking into our first household to monitor and there she was!

I knew that she had moved to another community, but I was so surprised and excited to see her! She’s now helping run the water and solar businesses in Yakura. Mary was equally as surprised to see me, and asked how Victoria, Jacob, and Hailey were (my 2013 GLP teammates).  It was a touching reminder of the lasting impact field reps and Saha truly have on each community and its entrepreneurs.



And now, an update on living in Tamale and a shameless plug for our food blog! Katie and I have started an Instagram account – tamaleeats – to document our adventures cooking and eating here in Tamale (even though we have zero experience with food photography). It’s a whole new world learning what goods we can actually cook from the market, and trying to operate our oven. It’s a great day if it only takes one match to light the stove!


Nevertheless, I think we’ve done a splendid job so far: we haven’t eaten plain rice for any meal and we discovered donuts in the market can be a good (albeit not nutritious) lunch substitute when it’s too hot to turn on the stove. Head over to tamaleeats to see homemade falafel, mujadara, chili, and more!

Donuts Falafel

From Field Rep to Full-Time Staff

Two leadership programs down and two weeks of monitoring under the belt – wow, life in Tamale is different when there aren’t 60 salamingas running around town. As I settle into this new lifestyle, I am starting to reflect on the differences of being a Field Rep and working as a staff member in Ghana.

As a field rep, my mind was set on the end goal of beginning a water treatment business in Sagbarigu. There were definitely problems along the way, but we were able to find quick and easy solutions to each problem we faced. We left in June 2014 confident that the skill sets we gave the women entrepreneurs were enough to keep the business running.

Now I am back two years later as a full-time staff member. Yes, Sagbarigu’s water treatment business is still running well. But, I have already learned in my short time here that there are many gray areas to the success of these businesses. It’s not just about the incredible team that implemented these businesses. It’s also about the incredible staff members that work hard to monitor in these communities. Every day, we visit 3 communities to check on the center, sales, successes and challenges of the water and solar businesses. I am learning quickly that each business has its unique challenges that I could not have imagined as a field rep. As I sit in the solar center of Chandanyili with Wahab and the 4 women entrepreneurs talking about money management, I can see a concrete difference in the way I solved problems as a field rep and the way I solve problems now.

Instead of wondering, what can be done right now to solve this problem, I ask myself: What is better for the sustainability of this project? Should we use the easy solution to get the center back up and running now? Or talk with the women, encourage them to hold a community meeting, and let us know their final decision on sales? Do we lead these business owners towards the answer we want to hear or do we let them find solutions to their problems that best fit their community? Will their answer end up being the same as ours?

I may not know the answers to all of these questions now, as they are sure to be different with each unique situation, but I have learned so much already from Eric, Wahab, Amin, Peter and Shak. Eda and I continue to be thankful for their patience, willingness to answer any [silly] question, and the constant laughter (usually relating to our most recent marriage proposals). We’re excited to see what this year has in store for us!

wahab (1)

Introducing Our 2016 Advisory Board

The Saha Global Advisory Board consists of some of our top Field Rep alumni. After participating in the Global Leadership Program and implementing a Saha business from the ground up, these people really know what we are all about! We truly value their input and feedback. We know that they have the skills, experience and passion that we need to continue to drive our growth and expansion!

The main focus of our board over this next year will be fundraising and Field Rep alumni engagement. We are excited to have their input and ideas!Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 10.56.46 AM

Our 2016 Advisory Board Members:
Brianan Kiernan
DeLaine Mayer
Kayleah Griffen
Sean Dikdan
Signe Lindquist
Bryant Foreman
Jeremy Lakin
Lilly Prince
Stacey Cussen

Over the next few weeks we will be posting bios about each of the members so you can get to know them a little better, stay posted!

A Day in the Life of Shak, Saha’s Director of Ghana Operations

Today we are going to hear from Shak, Saha’s Director of Ghana Operations. Shak has worked for Saha since 2009, is our resident solar expert, and manages our team in Tamale. He is an huge asset to the Saha team and one of the most popular guys in Tamale! This is his first-ever blog post. I’ll let Shak take it from here:

ghana {CWS team}-102Every Monday, I meet everyone at the office by 6:30am to check in about how the week is to start and where each person is heading out to monitor. After checking in with everyone, I give them each a day of fuel money so they can head out to the field. At the end of each day, everyone checks in with me at 2:30pm about how the day went and challenges encountered in the communities that day. Some examples of challenges would be if there was a broken polytank. If this happens, then they can take the supplies needed for the women to repair it the next day.

ghana {CWS team}-98After my morning check ins, I leave to monitor communities myself.  The first thing I do when I am out to monitor is visit the business centers to see the status of the center. Then, I go talk to the entrepreneurs. The first thing I ask them (after sending my greetings to them) is “how is the water business center doing?” I make sure to ask how many blue drums were treated this week and how many aquatabs they used. I then ask about the challenges or successes of the week, before heading out to my first compound visit.

The same thing applies to the solar centers. I make sure that I ask how many  cell phones the entrepreneurs charged in the past week and count the number of cell phones and batteries plugged in when I arrive. I also ask how often the panels have been cleaned and how sales are going for the the week. Finally, I ask how much money they made in the past week.

CWS_060514_Solar_MVI_8249.MOV.Still001On Fridays we have our general staff meeting day. During this meeting we discuss all problems encountered for the week and how to solve them.

My responsibilities as the Director of Ghana Operations are:

  • -To provide advice and support for teammates
  • -Support teammates, answer basic questions, and act as a funnel for communications with the US staff
  • -Create clean and organized expense reports
  • -Write blog posts for Saha Global
  • -Oversee all monitoring and operations
  • -Make sure all activities are are getting accomplished in a timely manner
  • -Order supplies in preparation for the Global Leadership Program

ghana {CWS team}-94My favorite part of my job is providing cleaning water and solar power to people in need. The difficult part of my job is if there is bad communication in the team. That is stressful!

-Ibrahim Shakool


Meet Our Newest Corporate Partner: Phoenix Revolution

Saha Global is thrilled to announced our newest corporate partner: Phoenix Revolution!


Phoenix Revolution’s mission is to overcome the most challenging problems that face our world today, through engineering economic and environmental solutions. Their Ocean Pure Water System (OPWS) uses modern and proven water desalination processes in an innovative way to reduce power consumption and upfront costs, while maximizing water production. Using desalination and purification techniques based on reverse osmosis (RO), the OPWS does not innovate on the removal of dissolved solids, but on the ability to supply water to the system.

“What was once a multi year, multi billion dollar operation, can now be done in weeks with startup costs starting well under the $100,000 price mark.” Says Casey Glynn, Phoenix Revolution’s Founder and CEO. “Our system is easy, adaptable to being deployed under the sea or on land depending on your specific needs, and can get you started creating fresh, clean, potable drinking water right away. The OPWS is the beginning of ensuring that all people on this planet have quick and easy access to water.”

Saha was first introduced to Casey, last year through Next Step Living. We were immediately impressed with his passion for worldwide water access and his innovative technology. Casey and his team attend the Saha Benefit in the fall, were excited by our plans to expand to Nicaragua and immediately wanted to know how they help.

“[Saha and Phoenix] share the same belief. We are trying to solve the same problems and we feel that together we can make a large difference,” says Casey. “Companies coming together and working together is the only way we can all move forward on this most critical of problems”

Over the next year, Phoenix will be donating funds to help support our expansion and eventually will be contributing their water treatment products for us to test in-country during our Nicaragua pilots. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

Is your company interested in expanding your impact by supporting Saha’s work? Contact Kate,, to learn more!

Introducing Saha’s Operations Coordinator Eda & Programming Coordinator Katie

From left to right- Shak, Eda, Hailey, Victoria & Jacob, Eda’s team members during her time on the Global Leadership Program in the Summer of 2013.

First up, Eda Reed. Take it away…

Ghana, it’s been too long – but I’m coming back! Nicaragua, same goes for you! This June will be three years since my time as a field rep in the village of Vogyili, and I am more than excited to get back to Ghana and explore Nicaragua as the new Operations Coordinator!

In May, I’ll graduate from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in biology and environmental science, with a concentration in the environment and human health. I’m passionate about the health of humans, wildlife, and the environment, and how they interact (aka One Health). I believe that we need to focus on all three of these stakeholders in order to make improved global health a reality, and that’s why I love Saha Global’s model! The clean water and solar energy businesses focus on solutions to improving human health that are local, sustainable, and ultimately beneficial for more than just the immediate village impacted. My time in Ghana was the “aha” moment that sparked my passion, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to go back!

Me with Mary & Fusiena
Eda with Vogyili’s water entrepreneurs Mary and Fusiena

I think there’s great potential for Saha’s expansion to Nicaragua, and I can’t wait to find Saha’s niche. I spent a few weeks near Managua in the west of Nicaragua in 2014 teaching environmental science and implementing environmental health projects. Everyone I worked with there were as welcoming and friendly as Fuseina and Mary from Vogyili, the two women managing the clean water business I helped set up. I’m convinced the northeastern region of Nicaragua will be no different! It will be challenging to find what pieces of the Saha model work or don’t work in a new country, but I’m confident Katie and I have what it takes! I can’t wait until we begin our new adventures in Ghana and Nicaragua.


And now we will hear from Katie Spruill. (And yes we know this makes a Kate, Kathryn and now a Katie on the Saha Team). Katie will be helping us lead this Winter’s Program as well! Without further ado…

I am excited to be Saha’s Programming Coordinator  beginning in June 2016! Since

Katie & Mariam
Katie & Mariam

participating in the Leadership Program in May of 2014, I have wanted to be a part of the Saha team. I graduate from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!!) in May of 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering and a Green Engineering minor. I have always been interested in international development and from the moment I learned about Saha Global’s leadership program, I knew I needed to apply.

Ana, Katie, Nestor, Alex, and Nicole (From left to right) on their final day in Sagbarigu.
Ana, Katie, Nestor, Alex, and Nicole (From left to right) on their final day in Sagbarigu.

In my first few days in Ghana, as a Field Rep, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. I was very excited to be involved in helping so many people. At the same time, however, it was heart breaking to see these beautiful kids drinking contaminated water. Working with the women entrepreneurs, to build the water treatment center, was an incredible experience. We didn’t speak the same language, but I could immediately sense their enthusiasm for the project and their sense of community during our many meetings with the village. I will always remember Sanatu, one of the women entrepreneurs,  grabbing my hands on our last day and asking me to never forget her.  Forgetting her was never an option, she had made a bigger impact on my life than I could ever have made on her life.

Needless to say, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to serve as Saha’s programming coordinator.  I am ecstatic to get back to Ghana and I cannot wait to start our work in Nicaragua!


Nicaragua and Saha’s Growing Team

When I posted our scouting trip recap a few months ago, we were still keeping our expansion country a secret. Now that we have let the cat out of the bag, I wanted to write a follow-up blog post to share more information about our time in Nicaragua.

After spending a week in Peru, Kate and I headed to Nicaragua. We arrived in Managua and took a small 8 passenger plane to the Northeast coast to a town called Puerto Cabezas, or as the locals called it “Port.” After months of research, we had pinpointed Port as a potential headquarter city for Saha to operate from and were excited to finally check it out. Althoug we had met and talked to many different people working in Nicaragua on the phone, bwe hadn’t set much of plan for our trip beyond just getting to Port. The goal of our visit was to get to as many rural communities as possible, but we had yet to figured out which ones, how we were going to get there and who was going to translate for us.

Earl & Kate
Earl & Kate

Strangely a week before we left for out scouting trip Kate re-connected with an old friend named Earl. Earl is a pastor who was born and raised in Nicaragua and currently runs an orphanage in Puerto Cabezas. Kate had visited this orphanage numerous times during her undergraduate work with the Nicaraguan Orphan Fun and Engineering Students Without Borders at the University of Virginia, but it had been 10 years since she and Earl had connected. Earl opened his guesthouse up to us and was extremely helpful as we made contacts in Port to help with our endeavor. He set us up with two translators, a driver and set up a meeting with his co-worker, Dustin, who has lead many medical mission trips in and around the area.

Our translators were actually two 18 year old boys from the orphanage. They spoke excellent English were excited to be involved.
Our translators were actually two 18 year old boys from the orphanage. They spoke excellent English were excited to be involved.

Within just a few hours of arriving in Nicaragua we had a set plan for our next few days. We packed up early the next morning and were off on a bumpy four-hour journey to Waspam. Over the next two days we traveled to 8 communities along the Rio Coco where we met with community leaders and performed household surveys to get a sense of their water and electricity access. Our initial feeling was that despite cultural differences, the set-up and dynamic in the communities that we visited were very similar to our partner communities in Ghana. Additionally, people were collecting their drinking water from surface water sources and using kerosene lamps to light their homes at night.

We left Nicaragua feeling confident that Saha could have a significant impact on the rural communities that we visited and believe there is a great opportunity for long-term work in the area. We are extremely excited to explore the area further to get a better grasp on what working there would entail. There is still a lot of research to be done– getting a better idea of the community dynamic, setting up our headquarter operations, finding local partners, plotting potential partner communities and finding local water and solar technologies are just a few of the many things left to find out.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.06.27 AM
On the left, Katie Spruill, and the right, Eda Reed

Which leads perfectly into the introduction of our two newest Saha Team members who will help make that all happen: Eda Reed and Katie Spruill. We know these two ladies have the skills, pluck and go get ’em attitude that we need on our team for our expansion to Nicaragua. In June Eda & Katie will travel to Ghana. They will help lead our Summer Global Leadership Program and then stay an additional month to learn the ins and outs of our in country Ghana operations from the pros themselves, Peter, Shak, Amin, Wahab and Eric. We see this training process extremely crucial. We pride ourselves on our 100% sustainability track record. We believe that spending time with out Ghana team will help not only Katie & Eda to get a better understanding of our work in Ghana, but will also help them understand what will need to happen in Nicaragua.

Tomorrow I will hand over the blog to Katie & Eda. Welcome to the Saha Team ladies! Let’s do this Nicaragua!

Meet Our Entrepreneurs: Lachiya from Takpili

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 4.54.43 PMLachiya was born in Kpalbe. She grew up there until her teens when she went to live with her aunt in Takpuli. She later got married in Takpuli and has given birth to four kids: three girls and a boy. Before joining Saha Global, she farmed rice and groundnuts. She still farms alongside running the water and solar businesses. She also sells firewood.

Lachiya is happy that Saha has been able to provide Takpuli with clean drinking and then later with solar electricity. Lachiya says, “Now whenever there’s an occasion, like a funeral or wedding, and people come from different villages, there is clean safe water to drink and lights at night too. I am proud to be a part of the Saha Team!”

Fourth Annual Benefit Success

IMG_4332This past Friday we had our Fourth Annual Benefit at the W Hotel in Boston. Our whole team was blown away by the tremendous amount of support we felt. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by a room full of Saha supporters as we celebrated all of our successes and made our announcement  that our next country is…..NICARAGUA!


It is because of that support that we were able to raise $20,000 towards our expansion! We would like to thank everyone who helped make this night possible, especially our event sponsors: Wolf Greenfield, Dwell Proper, Oasys Water and KPMG; our Board of Directors: Vanessa Green, Sarah Kearney, Mark Moeremans and Pat Cahill; our amazing performers Amory Sivertson and Fermata Town; and all of our generous donors who contributed items to the auction.

We would also like to recognize the seven Next Step Living employees, who cycled nearly 400 miles the weekend before the Benefit as a part of Climate Ride, a non-profit that that raises awareness and funds for sustainable practices through multi-day bike-rides. The Next Step Living and Saha Global Climate Ride Team joined Climate Ride’s Northeast 5-day biking expedition, through Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts on September 17, and are raising funds for Saha Global through December. Thank you Next Step Living for your continued support!

Saha Executive Director & Co-founder welcome everyone
Saha Executive Director & Co-founder, Kate Clopeck welcomes everyone to the Benefit


From Left to Right, Pat Cahill (Board Member), Vanessa (Co-founder & Board Member), Kate Clopeck (Co-founder & Executive Director), Sam Reilley (Director of Operations & 2011 Field Rep Alum), Kathryn Padgett (Director of Programming & 2011 Field Rep Alum) and Brianan Kiernan (Past Ghana Country Director & 2012 Field Rep Alum)


Amory Sivertson on the piano
Acappella group, Fermata Town


There were many people invested in this expansion. There were hours worth of research that went into choosing which country would best suit Saha and we can not thank our Saha Challenge participants enough. Congrats to past field reps Bryant Foreman and Lucas Hilsbos for pitching Nicaragua and getting us to where we are today. And a huge thank you to past field reps Leah Staschke and Aly Carr for making an incredible case for Peru.

There is still a lot of work to do, but we feel confident in our ability to bring clean water and solar electricity to communities in Nicaragua that do not currently have access.  In order to make our expansion into Nicaragua a reality we will need to establish a base to begin our in-country operations: plotting potential communities, researching local water treatment and solar materials and exploring local partnership opportunities. We are currently seeking an additional $50,000 to make that happen. Help get Saha to Nicaragua by donating on our website here.