Innovative Models for International Development and Poverty Alleviation - Jibu: Local Owners Driving Lasting Solutions

Tuesday, October 17, 2017 
3:40 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
MUB Theater II

Social Innovation Speaker Series Keynote Address: Galen Welsch, Co-Founder & CEO, Jibu

Ninety percent of the underserved urban market in East Africa cannot afford to purchase clean, safe drinking water. Simultaneously, a lack of meaningful and viable business-ownership opportunities stifles economic growth and upward mobility. Jibu—Swahili for "Solution!"—was founded in July, 2012 by father-and-son team Randy and Galen Welsch to address these dual issues in a unique way. By supplying premium-quality drinking water at radically affordable prices, and providing emerging-market entrepreneurs with a successful and profitable business model, Jibu takes a two-pronged approach to improving the standard of living in underserved communities in Africa.  

Lack of meaningful business ownership opportunities and massive under-employment trap most people in emerging markets into an undesirable standard of living. At the same time, about a billion people do not have access to daily necessities such as affordable drinking water. By identifying, unleashing, and channeling the latent entrepreneurial talent in emerging markets, Jibu is transforming the daunting challenge of addressing basic human needs into an expansive opportunity that allows thousands of properly equipped social entrepreneurs to become the solution, one neighborhood at a time.

Jibu trains and finances emerging market entrepreneurs to build profitable social franchises designed to serve the most basic needs of their community, with an anchor product of radically affordable drinking water priced at or below the customers’ cost to boil water at home. At the core of the game-changing innovation is the integration of franchisor and financial services, successfully contextualized to emerging market environments. In a very short time, Jibu have scaled a network of locally owned franchises that provide affordable, premium quality water to underserved communities in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, in the process providing life-changing training and jobs to many women and youth. The franchisees’ established, high-visibility, environmentally-friendly drinking water storefronts are also well-positioned to affordably offer other needed products.

The traction to date has been substantial and is accelerating quickly. In 2015, Jibu grew from 2 to 16 successful franchises. Each of these franchises also generated, on average, two new fulltime microfranchise business owners. In total, Jibu launched 50 new Jibu businesses in 2015 - about one per week – and created roughly 140 new jobs – about three per week. Jibu are currently launching new businesses at nearly double that pace. Franchisees are generating significant revenue and are at breakeven within about 3 months of their initial investment. Expansion goal project launching over 1,000 locally-owned franchises that will employ over 8,000 people and reach over 7 million with affordable drinking water and other impactful products by 2022.


Image of Galen Galen co-founded Jibu in 2012 and under his leadership Jibu has quickly become a top-rated B-Corp social franchise bringing affordable drinking water access to thousands, and creating hundreds of jobs, mostly for youth, across East Africa. Galen’s achievements at Jibu have been recognized by BBC World, the Guardian, Fast Company, the Franchise Times, and by Forbes 30 under 30. In addition to Jibu, Galen is an advisory board member of the University of New Hampshire’s Social Sector Franchise Initiative, a mentor (and prior fellow) at the Unreasonable Institute, an honorary member of Toniic impact investor network, and a delegate at the Skoll World forum in Oxford. Galen has been a speaker at Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference and at the UN General Assembly’s Global Development Lab showcase. Previously, Galen has worked as a field manager for Colorado’s Public Interest Research Group, for HEAL Africa in Goma, DR Congo, and for the Peace Corps as a Health Educator in Morocco.

CSIE is pleased to co-host this event with Net Impact, the Center for International Education and Global Engagement and College of Liberal Arts Grand Challenges Initiative.