The success and impact of the "Innovate 4 Water" marketplaces are characterised by a strong reinforcement of the local ecosystems around water nexus, entrepreneurship, new business partnerships between entrepreneurs, investors, utilities and enablers, the transfer of innovative water technologies and innovative business models, and cross-sectorial collaboration.




Bringing together key water stakeholders, such as large and small-scale private and public service providers, youth and women entrepreneurs, impact investors, governmental and non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, incubators, and accelerators, to build dynamic local ecosystems who can channel responsible finance towards job creation in impactful solutions, thus contributing to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


A 2-days marketplace to build bridges between the private sector and all the other key stakeholders leveraging water-related sectors opportunities.

In June 2017, Waterpreneurs initiated the "Innovate 4 Water" series of marketplace forums, with a global plan to expand to more than 25 selected countries (over the next five years) that were identified as leading (or emerging) spots in the fields of water and sanitation, entrepreneurship and innovation, and impact finance.


Since then, similar events have been organised in: 

Nairobi, KenyaApril 2018

Zug, Switzerland - September 2018, 

Abuja, Nigeria - November 2018, 

Kisumu, Kenya - February 2019,

Lusaka, Zambia - June 2019,

Lagos, Nigeria - July 2019 


Advanced discussions are progressing for potential events in:

Brisbane, Australia - April 2020 

Nakuru, Kenya - March 2020

Dakar, Senegal - Spring 2020

Beirut, Lebanon - March/April 2020

Lusaka, Zambia - May 2020

Dhaka, Bangladesh - June 2020

Cotonou, Bénin - Automn 2020

Manila, Philippines - Summer 2020

Kampala, Uganda - Automn 2020


Ongoing discussions are taking place to further expand the program in Africa, South-East Asia, Oceania, Middle-East, South-America, and Europe.




The global rollout of the "Innovate 4 Water" series includes the following cities: Cape Town, Lagos, Dakar, Abidjan, Casablanca, Kigali, Kampala, Lusaka, Tel-Aviv, Amman, Beirut, Shanghai, Singapore, Delhi, Manila, Phnom Penh, Sydney, Toronto, San Francisco,  Mexico, São Paulo, Bogota, Budapest, Stockholm, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Geneva.


These cities are leading (or emerging) spots in the fields of:

  • Water and sanitation,

  • Entrepreneurship and innovation,

  • Impact finance.



The fundamental objective of the “Innovate 4 Water” forums is to help achieve SDG goals by overcoming systemic gaps through locally incubated and adapted solutions. The forums’ design facilitates quick and efficient setup of solutions-oriented partnerships and collaborations. It focuses on scaling-up the impact of relevant time-proven solutions and on joining investment and entrepreneurial ecosystems in the shortest possible time. In this way, the “Innovate 4 Water” forums provoke major systemic change.

The “Innovate 4 Water” marketplace has four main objectives:


  • Create a trust-building environment and facilitate connections for deal-making: Create visibility for local stakeholders who have a deep knowledge of the local context and pressure realities in which they operate, including mature for-profit solutions providers, operators and technology providers, impact investors, water utilities, government agencies and regulators, development banks, corporation and incubators.


  • Develop solid fruitful relationships and consolidate local ecosystems: Provide the opportunity to organisations to present and discuss their needs and current projects.


  • Build the capacity and enable the scaling-up of relevant water nexus technologies and business models in the local context: Leverage the interest of local organisations who innovate, including disruptive technologies and social business models, to contribute to SDGs, job creation and empowerment of minorities (i.e. youth and women).


  • Facilitate the growth of a shared and contextualized SDG implementation roadmap: Support public national and/or regional strategies to tackle challenges to providing water nexus solutions.


Innovate 4 Water” forum organisers focus on selecting mature organisations (break-even or almost break-even enterprises and solutions providers) to maximise the interest of investors and accelerate the scaling-up of established and effective market-based solutions. 




Innovate 4 Water” marketplace forums offer a unique opportunity for key players to develop collaboration with a selected set of stakeholders in their ecosystem locally.

Innovate 4 Water” marketplaces are critical, medium size events and fundamentally different from typical conferences. Participants are curated in an effort to bring maximum value to each participant, attendance of the event is by invitation only. All participants are encouraged to be active through a series of short pitches, where they have the opportunity to present their activities to gain visibility and share knowledge with other sector stakeholders, to increase collaboration and business opportunities.


“Innovate 4 Water” is fundamentally different. Participants are curated to bring value to each other. The format is based on 100% of participants being active, through a series of short pitches where all participants have the opportunity to present their activities to gain visibility with other stakeholders of the sector and increase collaboration and business opportunities.


To do so, we provide the opportunity to all participants (entrepreneurs, investors, enablers) to:

  • Pitch their activity in a short pitch format in front of the full audience

  • Have a small exhibition space available within a marketplace to display flyers, prototypes or a roll-up banner

Delivering a successful marketplace:





Before the forum: design and preparation

  1. Select local partners for hosting, co-organizing a dynamic and interactive forum

  2. Build the capacity of local partners to replicate the forum.

  3. Seek endorsement from public authorities.

  4. Reach out and involve key international partners from the water nexus.

  5. Mobilise and select key strategic stakeholders as participants from the public sector, private sector and civil society.

  6. Develop a focused communication campaign (i.e. personal invitation letters, specialized global and local networks reach-out, social media campaigns).

  7. Review of the participants’ presentations.


During the forum

  1. Congregate participants so they can identify opportunities for collaboration, projects and business deals. Moderate discussion around themes specific to the local context.

  2. Provide a platform to promote local relevant innovative water nexus technologies and innovative sustainable business models in emerging markets and developing countries as well as climate-smart technologies.

  3. Provide the opportunity to participants to present and discuss their needs and current projects through short pitches.

  4. Create visibility for all participants in the marketplace so they can connect, enhance their own capacity and networks in the sector.

  5. Facilitate introductions: m

  6. Leverage the interests of organisations who innovate, including those with disruptive technologies and social business models, and of impact investors who invest for enhanced return, impacts, reputation and reduced risk.


After the forum: empowering

  1. Build the capacity of local organizing partners for communication.

  2. Communicate externally the forum results by local organizing partner (i.e. word of thanks, sharing highlights, website update with relevant materials to ease follow-up by participants and requests for feedback).

  3. Empower a local facilitator to maintain and develop local ecosystems and monitor outputs and outcomes in the weeks and months that follow through email, phone, personal contact, social media with the (potential) partnerships formed.

  4. Exchange experiences and lessons learned among local facilitators regionally and globally: the Bridge Builders Network.



1.     Mutual visibility between local solution providers and local investors.

2.     Creation of an environment of trust that allows cross-sector collaboration.

3.     Improved understanding of financially viable relevant business models and the benefits of social and environmental impact.

4.     Built capacity in the water nexus entrepreneurial community 

5.     Strengthened impact investment market in a given region and de-risking of market-based projects.

6.     Creation of local integrated approaches (i.e. coalitions, consortia) accelerating the financing of the sector.

7.     Action-oriented partnerships formed for impactful implementation, market-based solution-driven networks created.



1.     Increased private sector investing in the water nexus industry in a given region.

2.     Increased development of water nexus infrastructure, services, supply chain and human capital in a given region.

3.     Improved water security for all in a given region.

4.     Improved sustainable use and management of safe and secure water resources in a given region.


1. Increased economic growth in a given region.

2. Reduced poverty in a given region.