Center for Social Entrepreneurship

at Middlebury

From Rocket Science to Rural Africa

Click here to see Kate’s powerpoint presentation.


Kate Clopeck, Community Water Solutions

Community Water Solutions co-founder and Executive Director, Kate Clopeck graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and secured her “perfect” job — a great salary, benefits and her own office. It was a great opportunity, but from day one she knew something was missing. She longed for the fieldwork that had been her passion as an undergraduate leader of clean water projects in Nicaragua and Cameroon.

Eager to return to that world, Kate went back to school in 2007, this time for a Masters in Technology and Policy at the Massachusetts Institute in Technology. She wanted to concentrate her studies on water in developing countries, and soon found thesis advisor Susan Murcott who was leading a graduate research program on household water treatment in Northern Ghana. Kate focused her work on the sustained use of household water treatment and safe storage technologies, and over an intense January in Ghana of research, met Vanessa Green, a fellow MIT graduate, studying consumer choice of a range of household water products.

As engineers, Vanessa and Kate both understood that the water needs in Ghana were not due to a lack of technical solutions — there were a ton of water treatment products available on the market that met the needs of Ghanaian communities! The challenge lay in the implementation of those solutions. Intrigued by the idea of finding a sustainable implementation model, Vanessa and Kate worked together through the subsequent term to develop the community-scale, low-tech, social enterprise approach that formed foundation of our model. They raised funds to pilot the idea and in June 2008, Community Water Solutions was born!

For more information on Community Water Solutions, visit their website.

This talk was given on March 8, 2013 by Kate Clopeck as part of the Middlebury Center for Social Entrepreneurship Speaker Series. Click here for more information on the Speaker Series. For a recap of this talk, read our blog post.

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