With a market cap of over $100 billion and annual net earnings hovering around $2 billion, Walgreens is currently the leading drug chain in the United States. Unilever is of similar size, with a market cap of over $120 billion and annual net income of between $4 and $5 billion. These two corporate behemoths just teamed up to help bring clean water to rural Kenya.
Here’s how this partnership works: Unilever will donate six cents (yes, $.06) for every purchase of three different Unilever products made at Walgreens through the end of September. The goal is to raise $200,000 to cover the cost of a borehole project currently underway in the small village of Kipsongol, Kenya. The borehole project is conducted by the Toronto-based social enterprise outfit Me to We, which is funding the project through its charitable arm, Free the Children.
The borehole is expected to produce over 15 million gallons of clean water. The residents of Kipsongol currently depend on the Mara River for its water needs, which is not a clean or safe resource. Another positive is that the clean water produced here will help to stave off water-borne illnesses.
Of course, with all these projects, we have to keep an eye on what happens down the line. According to the Water Collective, an estimated 40 percent of water points are broken in developing countries at any given time, and over half of water projects around the world fail due to lack of community involvement. So the efforts of NGOs that show up, drill a well and leave don't have happy endings a full 40 percent of the time. If the wells break, leak or otherwise fall into disrepair in the absence of knowledgeable people to fix them, the communities are left with broken wells and no clean water.
Walgreens has to sell an estimated 3 million Unilever products to reach the $200,000 donation goal. So far, it’s reportedly one-third of the way there, and Todd Tillemans, president of customer development for Unilever is already lauding the effort saying, "It's good for business, and we're not shy about that, because that's what makes these sort of actions sustainable. We can both accelerate growth and accelerate the positive impact."