Winnovators – our exciting employee program

WaterAid/ Tim Ireland

In our signature employee development program, 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 .

  • Think outside the box inventing life changing.

  • Enhance leaderships qualities and transform 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: 

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

: 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.*

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

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

  • 94% Winnovators participants developed skills that can be applied in the workplace

  • 90% increased their communication skills

  • 90% said their company's support for Winnovators demonstrates their values and integrity


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 program.

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.


Hear from the 2018 innovators

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 program 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

Team leaders can begin the sign up process by completing the sign up form. Team leaders will then receive instructions on how to register the rest of the team, as well as nominating a senior colleague in the company to act as a company sponsor for the duration of the program.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

Teams will be able to pick from one of 3 countries as their focus for Solve and Fund:


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 (formerly known as Swaziland)

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.


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 behavior.

For companies in the Australia, UK, US, and Sweden: The program 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.

In October, each year.

  • 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

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 went to Nicaragua in March 2018 to test their ideas and report back on the impact the teams ideas have made. 

  • 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.

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