Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Watalux SA's activities have been running at full capacity to supply Wata electrolysis equipment in several African countries, mainly being installed in hospitals and/or health centres. These centres, generally located outside urban areas, constitute one of the core markets of the company, whose mission is to produce and disseminate innovative technologies to reduce extreme poverty and improve the health of the most vulnerable communities.
Wata technology allows a salt water solution to be locally transformed into sodium hypochlorite (active chlorine) to be used as a disinfectant in hospitals. This solution improves hospital hygiene, effectively disinfects objects and surfaces and preventively reduces the risk to healthcare staff, patients and the population. Moreover, this solution is particularly relevant when the delivery and cost of chlorinated solutions are challenging.
In the current context, the Wata solution is at the forefront of the response orchestrated by some major players in the humanitarian and development cooperation sector, such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA).
For example, a collaboration was quickly established with the Swiss Cooperation Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in the context of the COVID-19 response in Burkina Faso. This project deployed over nearly a year aims to equip 60 health centres with Wata technology. With the support of the embassy and the support of the Burkinabe Ministry of Health, the project is being implemented in 11 of the 13 regions of the country. The project also includes the training of hospital staff in the use of the technology as well as monitoring and evaluation visits after 3 and 6 months to assess the relevance of the action. Within this framework, Watalux has set up a follow-up in the form of a digital mobile application in order to digitize the whole process and simplify the work with partners in the field.
The Watalux team chose to focus on countries where partnerships were already established to facilitate the process. Indeed, Watalux SA relies on local field representatives in order to make technology transfer work as well as possible.
"Our anchor points are essentially local companies, staffed with local people. This is how we see cooperation," emphasizes Jérôme Voillat, Executive Director of Watalux SA.
Other projects related to COVID-19 are currently being studied, for example in Chad, Senegal and Mozambique.
"The spread of COVID-19 has been an accelerator of activity for our company," explains Jérôme Voillat. "Many organizations have wanted to integrate Wata technology into their emergency response strategy. We were able to react accordingly and adapt our production."
As social impact is at the heart of the mission and product DNA, Watalux SA obtained the B Corp certification in February 2020, following their B Corp Pending status obtained one year earlier. Watalux SA is a key example of a business model with a positive social impact among the growing community of B Corp in Switzerland (45 companies) and worldwide (more than 3400 companies).
Beyond the direct impact on the company's activities due to the strong increase in demand, the health crisis has encouraged the team - currently made up of five people - to initiate reflections on more flexible organizational methods.
Founded in 2018, Watalux SA is a spin-off of the Antenna Foundation, which is recognized as a public utility.
About the Antenna Foundation
Antenna is a Swiss foundation committed to scientific research and the dissemination of technological, economic and medical solutions for the most vulnerable.