Winnovators – our global employee development programme

Winnovators – our global employee development programme Image WaterAid/Oliver Dixon

Use your knowledge and the expertise of your company to solve a real challenge from our work, raise money and develop new workplace skills.

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.

How does it work?

Your team of six to ten people will tackle a 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’ll need to: 

Solve: choose a real case study and use the unique expertise of your team and organisation to share ideas to help solve it.

Fund: pitch exciting, big ticket fundraising campaigns to WaterAid to secure a £500 seed fund and use this to make your events a reality and raise at least £5,000.*

Learn: set individual and team learning goals and monitor your progress throughout the programme.

*See the FAQ's at the bottom of this page to find out more.

What’s in it for you?

For businesses, Winnovators is a unique corporate and social responsibility programme, enchancing business profile while contributing ideas and funds to tackle the global water, sanitation, and hygiene crisis. In 2019, 93% of participants said that their company's support for Winnovators demonstrated their business values and integrity.

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

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

  • 96% Winnovators participants developed skills that can be applied in the workplace
  • 94% would recommend the programme to others
  • 93% enhanced their team working skills

What do we need from you?

If you're an employee interested in participating in our 2020 programme, 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 six-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.

See what it's all about

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up?

To sign up for Winnovators register your team here.

Registration closes Friday 20 March. The programme begins Wednesday 1 April.

What are the different challenges?

As part of WaterAid’s global campaign on water security and climate, the Solve challenges for the 2020 programme reflect these issues faced by communities in India, Timor-Leste, and Zambia.

India challenge

Rainwater harvesting, treatment, and storage are increasingly seen as an adaptation to climate change by communities in the southern state of Kerala. However, current off the shelf tanks and related infrastructure are unaffordable for many. 

Your challenge is to design alternative storage solutions that are both low cost and eco-friendly while being able to withstand heavy rains and flooding due to increased monsoon activity in the area.

Timor-Leste challenge

Groundwater supplies used by coastal communities are increasingly unreliable due to unpredictable rainfall and rising salinity levels due to the impacts of climate change. This is exacerbated by a historic and ongoing reluctance within communities and households to collect and treat rainwater.

Design and develop a holistic approach, ranging from new technology designs to behaviour change campaigns, to ensure that coastal communities in Timor-Leste can access safe drinking water year round.

Zambia challenge

Impacts of climate change are significantly reducing the water security of communities in south western Zambia. Groundwater levels in existing boreholes are dropping fast, water quality is diminishing, and finding new sources of groundwater is proving increasingly difficult. This has a knock-on effect on food security and these issues combined reduce tourism in the area, which is a major source of income in communities. As a result, many people are leaving the area and leaving the most vulnerable to these changes struggling to meet their water needs.

This challenge has technical, cultural, social, and economic facets. Design a plan that provides solutions towards one or more of these approaches.


More details about the challenges will be provided to participants upon the start of the programme on 1 April. To find out more about the impact climate change has on access to clean water, visit our climate change page.

Is there a financial commitment?

For companies in the Australia, UK, US, and Sweden: The programme is free, but we ask that your company underwrites the seed fund provided by WaterAid, in case your team fails to deliver a minimum profit. Seed funding amount and fundraising targets vary by country. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

For companies in India and Japan: entry costs and fundraising targets depend on your country of residence. Teams will not be giving seed funding. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

When are the winners announced?

In October, each year.

How does Winnovators benefit the chosen country?

Since 2015, Winnovators has raised nearly £760,000 for our work.

Ideas and solutions are shared with, and judged by, the feature country for them to put into practice.

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.*

*This varies per region. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

What have past winners done?

See 2017 winners Team Albagua from Scottish Water and Fujitsu test the hygiene app they made as part of the Nicaragua challenge

Take a look at 2018 winners Team Praan from Sydney Water trial the 'Poo Switcheroo' mechanism they made for the India challenge

Not ready to commit?

If you're interested in the programme but need a bit more information, fill out the form below and one of our team will get back to you.