Winnovators – our exciting employee programme

Winnovators – our exciting employee programme  Image

In our signature global employee development programme, teams compete from across the world to solve a real challenge from our work. Winnovators raise money, share ideas and develop new skills and leadership qualities along the way.

Sydney Water ‘Team Praan’ were one of 13 Australian corporate teams participating in Winnovators, an employee development program run by WaterAid.  As the global overall winners for 2018 they will jet off to India to see WaterAid work and test their “Poo Switcheroo” sanitation solution.

Winnovator Team 2018

Steel Mains CEO reflections from 2018 Winnovators

“This was a great program to be involved with.  As first time participants the Steel Mains team did a fantastic job - and had a lot of fun along the way.  It was great to see the enthusiasm and passion in which they approached the challenge. Great outcomes in both personal learning and fundraising for the vital WaterAid work. Well done team.”

Dean Connell

CEO, Steel Mains

2017 Global Overall Winners Scottish Water Team Albagua  - trip to Nicaragua

What's in it for you?

For managers, Winnovators is an innovative form of staff skills development, making it a great way for you to enhance your employee offer.

For businesses, Winnovators is a unique corporate and social responsibility programme, enhancing business profile while contributing ideas and funds to tackle the global water, sanitation and hygiene crisis. 

For team members, it’s a fun learning experience that helps develop creative and critical thinking and deepen your relationship with your team – all while raising your profile in your company.

  • 92% would recommend Winnovators to others

  • 96% developed skills that can be applied in the workplace

  • 92% achieved personal learning objectives

How does it work?

Your team of ten people will tackle a real water, sanitation or hygiene challenge from a country where we work. To win the chance of visiting that country, you’ll compete with teams around the world to find innovative solutions to the problem.

You will learn new ways to engage internal and external stakeholders while raising valuable funds for WaterAid. 

Winnovators is a great opportunity to develop your skills and rise to a new challenge. To take full advantage of it, you’ll need to commit to around two days a month over the duration of the programme, which lasts from March to September each year.

We give you everything you need to solve the challenge, fundraise and learn. Our Winnovators team will support you every step of the way.

You select the country you want to focus on:


  • 1.6 million do not have access to safe water

  • 7.5 million live without sanitation facilities

eSwatini (formally known as Swaziland)

  • 1 in 3 people do not have access to clean water

  • 2 in 5 people do not have access to a decent toilet


  • 44% of people still defecate in the open

  • Only 57% of people use the improved water supplies available

What do the teams do?

You will:

  • Compete to solve a real-world problem while learning new skills.
  • Think outside the box inventing life-changing ideas.
  • Enhance leadership qualities and transform futures through clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene.

What do we need from you?

If you're an employee who would like to take part, you'll need the backing of your company and line manager and a team of six to ten people to commit to at least two days a month during the nine-month programme.

We'll provide the resources you need to solve, fund and learn – you provide the commitment and enthusiasm! Please see the FAQs below for more information about financing the challenge.

Get your team on board

"We are all so glad to have been involved in such a meaningful and rewarding project. It’s been an incredible journey on which we really feel like we’ve developed as professionals and been able to channel our creativity. We would really encourage other businesses and teams to join in with this brilliant challenge."
Nick Blamire-Brown - Team Aspara, Anglian Water, joint 2016 winners.
"The Water Innovators programme has been a great learning experience for our graduate talent. Our teams worked hard to solve a complex real-world problem, bid for seed funding and thought creatively about how they could raise funds."
Nicki Gray - Advisory Consulting Programme, People, L&D and Strategy Lead, Ernst & Young

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up?

Fill out this registration form.

You will then be emailed links to further forms for your team and project sponsor.

The deadline for applications is 1 March.

What are the different challenges?

The Solve challenges are:

  • Colombia

    • Engage in an indigenous territory based on a network of schools that service the Wayuu population in La Guajira to support the implementation of new national rural WASH policy. Projects of interest for this challenge include strengthening a sustainable services model based on multiples sources for multiple uses, creation of a market for water treatment and storage solutions, and implementation toolkits for the various stakeholders.

    • Relevant skill sets appropriate for this challenge include: marketing, business, communications, and/or engineering.

  • eSwatini

    • Rural communities in the Lowveld of eSwatini, the driest part of the country, are seeking designs and implementation ideas for a practical, low-cost water supply system that utilizes renewable energy.

    • Relevant skill sets appropriate for this challenge include: technology design, engineering, marketing and/or communications.

  • India

    • Develop a low-cost retrofit design for existing toilets in marginalized and low-income households so that the toilet can cater to the needs of all genders, the disabled, children, and the elderly. Engagement plans in the household and beyond are needed to educate and ensure proper uptake.

    • Relevant skill sets appropriate for this challenge include: technology design, engineering, communications and/or behaviour.

Is there a financial commitment ?
  • In Australia, companies need to be members of WaterAid to participate.

  • For this program, we ask that your company underwrites the seed fund provided by WaterAid, in case your team fails to deliver a minimum profit.
    We also ask that your company gives your Winnovators team time and support, so they can really excel and you can maximise the value for your company.

What's the prize?

For the 2019 program, one lucky team will be crowned Global Overall Winner and get to visit our work in country (terms and conditions apply). 

When are the winners announced?

In October, each year.

Which are the challenge countries for 2019?
  • Colombia where 1.6 million do not have access to safe water and 7.5 million live without sanitation facilities

  • eSwatini (formerly known as Swaziland) where 1 in 3 people do not have access to clean water and 2 in 5 people do not have access to a decent toilet

  • India where 44% of people still defecate in the open and only 57% of people use the improved water supplies available


How does Winnovators benefit the chosen country?

Ideas and solutions are shared with – and judged by – the feature country for them to put into practice.
The funding aspect means that in 2016, the Winnovators teams raised over $244,000 for our work.
The overall winner of the 2017 Winnovators, Scottish Water, will go to Nicaragua and test out the solutions generated by their Winnovators team & report back on their progress.

How do we judge teams?
  • We have experts from across WaterAid who judge the three core components of Winnovators: Solve, Fund and Learn within the team submissions.

  • The judging panel is made up of technical experts (solve) fundraising experts (fund) and members from our people development team (learn).

  • Teams are judged in accordance to the award categories and guidance (provided when they teams start the programme) for what the judges are looking for.

  • The competition is split into regions with the winners from each region entering the final to compete against each other. One of these regional winners is then crowned the global overall winner.


  • To qualify to be a regional or global winner, the team must excel in all three areas of solve, fund and learn and also raise more than $10,000.*
  • The global winning team then visit the focus country to test their ideas, and feedback to participating teams the difference the ideas and fundraising has made.