If Antonio's story has made you think and you also want to help this cause to change the world
In one of his classes, while studying architecture at university, a teacher asked Antonio and his classmates to draw the sound of a metal ruler when hitting a blackboard. "Paint the sound; I found that an enormous challenge, "Antonio explains during the interview. Perhaps the last thing he could imagine then was that, just a few years later, the real challenge of his life was to find the formula to bring drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people who do not have access to it.
To Antonio, the obsession with water did not come suddenly, but was developed along many trips. He took advantage of his Architecture classes during the course to be able to go away during the holidays far away, to the other side of the world, as far as he understood that other cultures were found, other ways of understanding the world, other ways of living it. During his travels, he got involved in the construction and volunteer experiences that, little by little, were carving out the inner motivation with which he truly felt identified. You do not always know where the person you want to be is, but there are times when you find it, and then there is no way back.
The water problems
When it is something habitual, we fall into the error of thinking that water is only water. We do not see, or even intuit, that for many millions of women and children it means more than three hours of daily commute that prevents them from doing other essential things like going to school or exposing them to dangers as sadly as daily as structural (aggressions sexual). We do not see that the lack of water ruins the harvests of entire countries and hunger the empty stomachs. We do not see the wounds that are never cleaned, the tiny microbes that roam freely in ponds and puddles and that will eventually turn into deadly diseases. Each day about one thousand children under the age of five die from diarrhea caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.
Around the world, 748 million people have serious problems accessing water. An amount that is like the whole population of Europe … but, of course, they are not in Europe. It's one in ten people in the world … but, of course, we do not know them. The problem of the figures is always the same: they have no name, no parents, no memories, no brothers, no childhoods, no future.
On one of his trips, Antonio arrived in the Afar region of Ethiopia, one of the warmest and most arid areas in the world. Afar is also the place where the oldest remains of modern man were found. Ethiopia is truly a world apart in every way, cradle of civilizations, of landscapes and traditions and one of the countries with the richest history in the world (Ethiopians love to speak proudly of their historical exploits). There they were helping to build an operating room in a hospital and, every day, there were a lot of people with health problems who shared, in one way or another, a direct or indirect relationship with the lack of water. "I remember an elderly couple. The man came with his leg absolutely gangrenous and needed to be amputated, "says Antonio. "Actually, originally the problem was only a wound, but having no water to clean it, over time had degenerated so much that the man was going to lose his leg."
It happens with the figures that when you know closely one of the stories they hide, it never becomes a figure again. It happened to Antonio, that the numbers became names, to be children, old people, women, the future. And it happened that for Antonio the water began to become an obsession. "Little by little you get into the water wheel, everything that means, and then it is very difficult to escape", tries to justify it.
Consistency in the midst of competitiveness
After that road with no return to the universe of water, three more trips to Ethiopia followed, of which Antonio was already different. One birthday afternoon, he and his childhood friend, Pablo Urbano, were enthusiastic about the idea of creating a social enterprise that would allow them to take water to places on the planet where they do not have access. "At that time, setting up a social enterprise seemed to us the most coherent and the easiest thing to achieve what we wanted to do. Maybe if we had not had enough ingenuity, today Auara would not be a reality. "
And so, without fears, without filters, and perhaps without conscience, they launched to sell water in what is probably the most competitive sector of the consumer market. "Everywhere we went to, we were thrown back. We took more than two years to sell the first bottle and there we were still more aware of how difficult this market was in which the largest multinationals compete. "
Auara, which in Amharic (the official majority language in Ethiopia) means sandstorm, came to the market to break the rules. As a social enterprise, 100% of the dividends generated by the sale of water bottles are destined to projects to take water where people do not have access. "The approach was not to set up a company to sell water bottles, but to sell bottles to get it where it's needed."
But, to the challenge of the competitive market, they added without hesitation that absolute coherence should go through all their activity. "You can not try to solve a problem by favoring a bigger one", summarizes Antonio. The water in their bottles comes from Los Barrancos, in León and, to reduce the environmental impact, the containers are produced in Spain with 100% recycled plastic (PET), which does not come from oil but from recycling other bottles. It is the first watermark that uses this type of recycled containers. To optimize transport, the design of the bottles is square, which allows saving up to 20% of spaces on each pallet.
The extraordinary power of everyday gestures
The same rigor and coherence that they seek to compete are also sought in the water and sanitation projects they develop. "We always work with local partners that we select with great effort and we make sure that they have a real impact, they are transparent and, above all, they have a long-term follow-up". They seek the absolute implication of the local community, that its members perceive the project as necessary and, therefore, understand the need to take care of it. "We are committed to monitoring each infrastructure for five years because, if you build a well and then it breaks down and nobody solves it, you generate a bigger problem than you solved."
To date they have already managed to carry more than 13 million liters of water through 37 projects in 15 countries of the world (the great majority in Africa). They do not know their names but, for them, each of the 24,000 people who have benefited from the projects are just as important as those who have chosen to buy a bottle of water to help with the change. "When I go down the street and I see that someone is carrying a bottle of Auara, it makes me want to hug him," Antonio acknowledges.
But with Auara not only seek to respond to the need for water that has the world population and in some places is much harder to satisfy, but also feel that they offer an option (among many others) to that other human need to act and to do something to change things.
"We want to turn such an everyday act as drinking water into an extraordinary act. We believe that the easiest way for people to be able to influence our world is in what we consume and in the values behind it ", concludes Antonio Espinosa.
look at her
listen to her
Content adapted from Antonio's video
The lack of drinking water affects more than 700 million people, the world's greatest poverty. Antonio Espinosa decided to invest all his effort in the creation of a social enterprise that dedicates 100% of the profits to the development of projects for access to drinking water. Today, Auara is a Spanish bottled water that changes the world, and has opened wells in more than 15 countries.
For me, architecture was the job I wanted to do, I liked many skyscrapers when I was little, I do not know, I saw it as a very big responsibility because then it is the landscape that people see.
I had the opportunity to go to Ethiopia; I was a month helping in the construction of a hospital, in the poorest region of the country. I went more with the technical concern, I wanted to know what a project was like, a work inside. There I realized that people had many material poverty, but the greatest poverty that existed, the most terrible poverty there was, was the lack of water.
There were many problems of malnutrition, stomach problems, drinking contaminated water, terrible injuries because they were infected because they did not have hygiene at home to wash themselves. There I had a little click, right? Saying, water is like the basis of life and is the most necessary thing. The madness is that in the world there are 700 million people who do not have access to drinking water, so I decided that I wanted to dedicate my life to work to try to solve and fight against this problem.
We set up a social enterprise to bring drinking water to these places, it was a very direct conceptual relationship: I drinking water here helped another person to have water in another place in the world.
We are bringing drinking water to more than 24,000 people and we have brought sanitation to almost 2,000 already. It is not just a matter of building a well, of making an infrastructure, but of having an impact in the long term and being sustainable. We need people to know this and talk about it, right? Word of mouth and Facebook to Facebook and Instagram to Instagram work very well.
I never cease to be surprised when I go down the street and see someone carrying a bottle of Auara in his hand; I want to give him a hug and many times people flip because I approach someone who goes with his bottle and I make a comment, I say something, I thank him or say "Hey, that bottle you are carrying is very special "
In the end, the concept behind Auara is not so much a bottle of water, a watermark, but to introduce the extraordinary into the everyday.
This content has been developed by Yoigo.