Project Everest


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Extended Project Brief - Water Infrastructure / Timor-Leste December

Posted by Ryan White Dec 23, 2016

The Social Enterprise

Project Everest is an organisation dedicated to implementing sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most complex issues by designing and developing social enterprises. Social enterprise is a term that has broadly been used to describe the interaction between charitable or humanitarian practices with business practices. Project Everest offers its own definition of social enterprise;

A social enterprise is a business that sells socially beneficial goods or services.

Project Everest is further dedicated to helping realise the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We are a social business geared towards bringing about social change rather than working solely for profit, although financial sustainability is vital to providing and scaling businesses.

The Water Infrastructure Sustainability Initiative is aimed at providing maintenance to existing water systems, such as pumps and pipes, in communities. This is working towards Goal 6 of the SDG’s, clean water and sanitation. Our idea for the project has two interconnected parts, an insurance business and an interactive platform.

The insurance business will take monthly or yearly premiums to provide cover for the communities  infrastructure. This payout is similar to what is already given to the Group Maintenance Funds (GMF), where the community holds the money to then pay for repairs. However these are not efficient or are unable to provide enough cash to pay for maintenance. Our insurance will allow higher cost repairs without having to collect that amount, and also run more efficiently than the GMFs.

The interactive platform, nicknamed ‘Pluber’, is theorised as an online platform where the communities requiring maintenance can place an ad or job for plumbers to then compete to perform. This is hoped to create a competitive market while at the same time produce a group of technical professionals who work on water infrastructure. The professional aspect is important as currently Timor-Leste lacks what we would consider ‘plumbers’. By introducing them the quality of repair, and therefore the longevity of systems, will improve ensuring that communities will continually have access to water. This is also important for our insurance business as it will allow that brand to be linked to higher quality, and better value for money.

Design Thinking Cycle


Connecting with communities throughout Timor-Leste and meeting with NGOs and Government was conducted in February 2016 to understand the state of water resources. Again in July 2016 with it then localised in Dili and Ermera with two separate teams. The Dili team focused on furthering the project while the Ermera team also did water testing and examined water systems.


The identification of the problem was conducted over February 2016. The February team found various issues regarding the state of water resources of Timor-Leste defined the problem  as that of maintenance of existing infrastructure. This was due to the extensive work being completed by NGOs, but the lack of follow up programs.


Solutions to the defined problem were formed over July 2016. This was with the help of the further empathising the two teams conducted that month. They came up with both the insurance business and interactive platform. 


This is the current stage of the Project. The December 2016 team has been gathering information to check the viability of the proposed business’. A business model canvas, marketing plan and cost analysis have been started, but further prototyping of the business models is required before finalising the prototype and move on to the test stage.


Water Infrastructure Sustainability Initiative

The December team has been working mainly towards gathering information based around three data gaps; which part of infrastructure is failing, the frequency of those failures, and how much do those parts cost.

In the earlier weeks the team had numerous meetings with NGOs, hardware stores and insurance companies. Through much of this we were simply engaging the organisations or confirming the information from previous months. Successes from these meetings was the contact made with Don Bosco, a training school similar to Tafe. from them we can access qualified workers for our interactive platform. From the Don Bosco meeting and other meetings we also were given the lead to other training schools in the districts, such as in Tibar, Liquica.

In the later weeks surveys were conducted to answer the data gaps. These were conducted in communities in Colmera and Comoro, subdistricts of Dili. From these we found that most people do their own repairs, or have them done by a neighbour or local handyman. This reinforced what we knew, that their is a lack of technical professionals.

From the information we were gathering the cost analysis and a marketing plan were started. We also began to cement the business model canvas from the ideated models. Both the cost analysis and marketing plan will need further work as only partial information could be gained within December.

Proposed Nature of Operations

In January, trekkers will be continuing to gather information to finalise the cost analysis and marketing plan. This will enable the viability of the prototype to be tested before the model itself is tested in a possible ‘incubation community’. The gathering of this information will likely see further surveying of communities and, of course, meetings. Additional to gathering of information, January will begin creating a network of plumbers.

An example of a typical day as a trekker in Timor-Leste:

Morning meetings starts at 8:02am sharp. The work day will commence as soon as the meeting is over, running until 6pm with a 1.5hr lunch break. Depending on the size of your team and the stage of your project, you may spend most of your day at the Cove working on the handover report and doing research. Usually the team will split up with some trekkers attending numerous meetings in a day (they can range from 10 minutes to 1.5 hours) or surveying locals usually going door-to-door. The trekkers that attend meetings/surveys are usually out from 10am - 4pm. Ideally, everyone debriefs the team on what they have done during the day (5:30pm). Working day finishes at 6pm and Recap and Review goes from 6:05pm - 6:20pm where each team debriefs the whole group on their achievements during the day. This example day, including all timings, are subject to change for future projects.

Desirable prior learning

The points below will be necessary to enable you to launch into the Project from day one. Points 1, 2 and 3 are re-stated from the project brief you received at Trekker Training so you should be ¾ of the way there already.

  1. Culture and nuances of Timor-Leste - This will help to ease you into the environment, simple language will also improve your experience.
  2. Common methods of water supply - This is to help you build the cost analysis and assist with getting the right information during surveys and meetings.
  3. Basics of insurance function - Here, function, is relating mostly towards how it interacts with the customer, such as premiums and excess. Also how insurance businesses gain, store and spend money will assist with modelling.
  4. Current state of the Project - Can be achieved by reading the handout report. This will also help with completing the other three points above.

Further from these you should also;

-              Prepare your stomach

-              Expect the unexpected

-              Prepare for an incredible month

This post was edited on Jan 6, 2017 by (Account removed)

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