Updated Oct 04, 2019

Maji Mamas: Women Building Scaleable Water Businesses

A social startup studio founding enterprises with women to develop, test, and bring water and sanitation solutions to market.


Sydney Gray

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Stage 4: Transition to Scale

Transitioning from 'proof of concept' to scale, we have successfully worked with 270 women that have built water enterprises serving over 7,500 and are developing the business blueprint to scale our construction microfranchise model.
Registered in Kenyain Kenya

Focus Areas:

Gender, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture Water Management and 2 MoreSEE ALL

Gender, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture Water Management, Housing and Infrastructure and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)SEE LESS

Implemented In:



Country Implemented In
Funds Raised to Date


In rural communities, built infrastructure is often unviable due to the extremely high cost of connecting disparate families. Historically nomadic, the Maasai are facing increasing pressure by the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments to settle onto predominantly arid, rural land. Without the ability to bring their herds to water, the cattle owned by Maasai are dying, draining the wealth from the community in addition to the typical issues that come with limited access to clean water.



Maji Mamas use interlocking stabilized soil block technology to build environmentally sustainable tanks for their community at less than half the cost of the cheapest competitors on the market, increasing her income while bringing water management solutions to her community. As a microfranchise, Maji Mamas receive training in business, leadership, and critical WaSH issues to build and expand on a scaleable plan, increasing her income by up to 300%.

Target Beneficiaries

We work with women in communities looking to expand their access to water, providing them with the skills, technology, and business plans necessary to expand access to water while increasing their incomes. Our initial beneficiaries for the microfranchise model are the Maasai and Luhya communities.

Mission and Vision

Mama Maji empowers women to change their world through water and we envision a world where women build their communities.

Innovation Description

Prospective franchisees are identified predominantly through referral. We provide prospective franchisees with support in market research and securing the first 3-4 contracts to build water tanks in her community. Once contracts have been secured, Maji Mamas receive training in producing interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSBs), building water tanks with ISSBs, and the policies and procedures for running a Maji Mama business. She also receives training to become a Water and Health Educator and in connecting her community to microloans for water tanks through our financing partners. Maji Mamas receive approximately 170 hours of initial training over the first two months and complete the first contracts for water tanks with franchisor support. As the franchisor, we also provide weekly support for the first six months to ensure Maji Mamas continue to secure contracts and are compliant with Maji Mama policies and branding. After the first period, Maji Mamas receive further training in building pit latrines to expand their product line. They continue receiving monthly support to ensure their business thrives. All of these activities are carried out primarily in the community where the Maji Mama lives. In the first year the Maji Mamas for a single franchise location are expected to build 50 tanks, three latrines, and train 2,500 community members on water and hygiene issues.

Competitive Advantage

The interlocking stabilized soil block technology allows women to build tanks from bricks made from the dirt in their community. This process is extremely environmentally sustainable, as the bricks require no firework for curing. These bricks are also made using low-tech equipment produced in country, ensuring rural communities with limited access to electricity or other resources have the ability to utilize the technology. The cost for creating these bricks are also extremely low, ensuring that Maji Mamas can sell 20,000L tanks to their community at less than half the cost of comparable tanks on the market while still having a considerable margin for profit. By packaging this technology into a microfranchise business model, we leverage the strengths of commercial franchising, including proprietary training, mentorship, and a business plan, to ensure women have all the tools they need to effectively build their businesses, serve water to their community, and increase their income.

Planned Goals and Milestones

There are over 800,000 Maasai in Kenya, the majority of which live in Kajiado and Narok counties. By focusing on a regionally-based social franchise model, we will expand to 775 Maji Mamas providing water access to over 600,000 people by 2023. By targeting rural Maasai communities, we will replicate and further refine the transferability of the business model across Southern Kenya. Through public private partnerships, we are leveraging microfinance to increase market penetration and grow individual business sales both to consumers and to the agricultural cooperative market.

Once we have five franchisees in operation, we will be able to centralize our supply chain and lower startup costs by 28 percent, increasing franchisee margins and decreasing franchisor costs. These savings will allow us to capitalize on existing partnerships to increase brand awareness and accelerate territory recruitment. These partnerships will effectively triple investment and within three years we will have full cost recovery, allowing us to continue to scale. We are already in conversations with UN-Habitat in Kenya about using Maji Mama products in their projects, which will accelerate our expansion in Kenya. UNHCR has also requested a proposal to fund the expansion of this initiative to the South Sudanese refugees being settled in Northern Uganda.
Funding Goal300,000
Projected Cumulative Lives Impacted200,000
New Implemented CountriesUganda
Recruit3 management, 2 advisory
New FeatureIn addition to water tanks and pit latrines, Maji Mamas use the interlocking stabilized soil blocks to line rock catchment systems and dams. Community members also purchase interlocking stabilized soil blocks from the Maji Mamas to construct homes and buildings for their shops, increasing business revenue.


Apr 2019
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
Sep 2018
Recognition ReceivedVERIFIED
Digital Pitch Contest 2018 Finalist
TITLEDigital Pitch Contest 2018 Finalist
Aug 2018
Recognition ReceivedPENDING
TITLEYoung Water Fellow - Eliza Lesale
Aug 2014
New Country Implemented In
Aug 2014
Key Partnership
ORGANIZATIONOur Lady of Perpetual Support