Winnovators – our exciting employee programme

Winners of Winnovators 2017 WaterAid/Brendan Foster

In our signature employee development programme, you and your colleagues compete with teams from across the world to solve a real challenge from our work. Raise money, share ideas and develop new skills and leadership qualities along the way.

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 leaderships 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 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’ll need to: 

Solve: choose a real case study – water, sanitation, or hygiene – 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 for our work in India.*

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 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, enchancing 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 relationships with your team – all while raising your profile in your company

  • 92% would recommend Winnovators to others
  • 96% developed skills that can be applied to the work place
  • 92% achieved personal learning objectives

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.

No direct financial support from your company is required. We'll provide the resources you need to solve, fund and learn – you provide the commitment and enthusiasm!

See what it's all about

Get your team on board

"It’s amazing what you can achieve when you get your creative juices flowing for something that truly matters. We found the whole experience invigorating and inspiring, and wouldn’t hesitate to encourage other companies to sign up."
Naomi Dixon - Team Albagua, Scottish Water, Global Overall Winners, 2017
"The Winnovators 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?

Sign up for the 2018 programme is now closed. To register your interest for our 2019 programme or to find out more please email [email protected].

What are the different challenges?

The challenges change each year based on the country selected to host the programme. This includes areas such as business models, taking ideas to scale and hygiene promotion. 

The real world challenges from India this year are:

  • Water – channel your business skills and propose a model to scale up women’s groups to turn a profit and offer a range of services including water quality testing 
  • Sanitation – channel your engineering and community engagement skills and provide a solution to the mechanics of twin pit latrines and a community engagement plan for sanitation 
  • Hygiene – channel your communication and application development skills and create hygiene promotion materials to use in schools that inspire children to spread the word about effective hygiene in their community 
Is there a financial commitment ?

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.*
We also ask that your company gives your Winnovators team time and support, so they can really excel.

*Teams in India will not be receiving seed funding, read the T&C's for more information.

What's the prize?
When are the winners announced?

In October, each year.

Which is the challenge country for 2018?

This year, the challenge country is India, where more than 76 million people lack clean drinking water and over 770 million don't have access to a decent toilet. 

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 2017, the Winnovators teams raised over £210,000 for our work.
The Global overall winning 2017 Winnovators team are going to Nicaragua in March 2018 to test their ideas and report back on the impact the teams ideas have made. 
The Global overall winning 2018 Winnovators team will go to India in spring 2019 to test their ideas and feedback on the impact of the Winnovators involvements 

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.