Winnovators – our exciting employee programme

Deborah Meaden and the winning 2016 Winnovator team WaterAid/Tim Ireland

In our signature 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.

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 eight 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 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.

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 eight people to commit to at least two days a month during the nine-month programme.

No 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

"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

Do you have what it takes to be a Winnovator?

Stay updated

By providing your details, you will receive information and resources from WaterAid relating to Winnovators. However we would also love to keep you updated on how your support is making change happen. We will send you information about our work, campaigns, opportunities to get involved and fundraising. Simply let us know how you’d like to hear from us.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up?

Registration for Winnovators 2017 has closed. We will be recruiting for Winnovators 2018 in October 2017.

Fill in your details and we'll be in touch.

What are the different challenges?

The challenges are not only about the technology or engineering, but reflect the complex nature of our work. This includes areas such as business models, taking ideas to scale and hygiene promotion. 
For the 2017 programme, teams chose between a water, sanitation, hygiene, or legal problem – and are working on an innovative solution that could be put into practise in our work:

  • Water challenge: designing surface water intakes in unstable soils with solar pumping to remote villages 
  • Sanitation challenge: faecal sludge management business plan and service equipment design 
  • Hygiene challenge: Track, monitor and incentivise hygiene promoter visits through mobile applications. 
  • Legal finance challenge: legal finance and business structure for a hub for entrepreneurial initiatives for self-supply.
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.

What's the prize?

For the 2017 programme, one lucky team will be crowned Global Overall Winner and get to visit our work in Nicaragua (terms and conditions apply).

When are the winners announced?

In October, each year.

Which is the challenge country for 2017?

This year, the challenge country is Nicaragua, where more than 1 in 10 people lack clean drinking water and over 3 in 10 don't have 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 2016, the Winnovators teams raised over £139,000 for our work.
The overall winning 2017 Winnovators team will go to Nicaragua and test out the solutions generated by a range of Winnovators teams (including their own), reporting back on their progress.