Access to clean water is not just people’s necessity, but a common human right. It is also a business opportunity that empowers a person financially and provides income so he or she can afford to sustain his or her other needs in life. But what if you can have both – access to clean and high quality water and a thriving business opportunity? Isn’t that a sweet deal?
ALKAVIVA, the company that offers water treatment machine installations and opportunities for people to have their water refilling stations, allows Filipinos across the country to have a chance of drinking clean, standard, world-class water and to have their own businesses.
Founded by husband and wife Engr. Louie Cristobal and Engr. Grace Cristobal in October 2011, ALKAVIVA has bettered the lives of Filipinos by installing various water treatment machines and water refilling stations sourced from different countries, in different provinces, from north to south of the Philippines. Even our fellowmen from rural corners of our country no longer need to depend on natural water from spring and deep well with the aggressive and wide reach of ALKAVIVA.
Inspired by their goal of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, female entrepreneur Engr. Grace Cristobal, together with her husband Engr.Louie Cristobal, built a water refilling station to have better access and start a lucrative business by producing alkaline water. In an interview with Business Mirror, Engr.Grace shared that “We really do not have authentic alkaline water here, as genuine alkaline water can be sourced from melting snow, and we know we do not have snow here in the Philippines. However, there’s a technology that can produce the same characteristics of the alkaline water, such as zero acid content and higher pH level, and that’s through water treatment advancements. These water characteristics are good for one’s health, because they allow your body to absorb well the minerals we can get from vitamins and medicine. And our goal to have access to that kind of water is what brought life to our very own water refilling station in October 2011.”
But just like any other budding entrepreneur, the couple Engr. Grace experienced some hardships right at the beginning of their business. “My husband and I are very technical people, as I worked as a Network Operations Engineer for Broadband ZTE, while he worked as a technical engineer for Apple. So, as we went on using the first ever machine installed for us, we noticed right away that the water treatment machine installed in our water station was sub-standard. We would always pay service fees to the technician of our former water refilling station installer. It came to a point that all of our money were just going to the technical maintenance fees of the machine,” she said.
Since the couple are both Electronics and Communications licensed engineers, they used their technical backgrounds in testing other water treatment machines and doing their own research online to further widen their knowledge of the technology of their then new venture. True enough, they learned that technicians would make them change and pay for some replacement parts of the machine, even if there was no need for it to be fixed at all.
That’s when they realized that the headache of paying for the technicians’ service fees might go on if they won’t do anything about it. In February 2012, just three months after ALKAVIVA’s inception, the couple decided to avail of a new water treatment technology sourced outside of the country which has guaranteed high quality functions and “no shortcut procedures” into its water filtration process. “This new technology is at par with the standard set by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health, and this gave us all the more reasons to use it for our business,” she said.
A light bulb moment happened almost immediately that same month of February, as Engr. Grace did not want for other water refilling station owners to experience what they had experienced from their previous transactions with their first water treatment supplier. She thought that she might as well help other entrepreneurs to save a lot of money by helping them avail of the same high quality water filtration technology from abroad.
“We trained ourselves to be the water treatment installers ourselves, since we are really technical people. We decided to offer installations to these aspiring entrepreneurs who also want to have their own water supply business. This time, ALKAVIVA is an installer company. We would improve the process of installing the machines and show clients how they should handle situations by giving them technical know-how seminars so they themselves can understand how the machines work. That way, they would save a lot of money since they do not have to pay for customer service fees, technician’s service fee, and unnecessary machine parts for so-called `maintenance`.We wanted to empower them to grow their businesses themselves so they would dodge the bullet of having a lot of financial woes,” said Engr. Grace.
ALKAVIVA offers very affordable business packages for those who want to pursue a water refilling business. For only a down payment of 30,000php from the total contract price of 151, 000php, anyone can start building their own business. Business owners can pay the balance thru a monthly fee of 3, 362php for a period of three years. Yes, now you can have your own business and access to high quality water- be it alkaline, mineral or purified, through an easy installment plan.
“We are not into franchising, we just install the machines. I want each of my clients to have his or her own brand name so they can be known for their own business, too. You can earn as much as your monthly obligations from ALKAVIVA.” As of December 2017, ALKAVIVA has already installed about 5, 278 high quality imported water treatment machines sourced outside of the country. There’s more than 5, 000 thriving entrepreneurs and water stations that give access to clean water all over the country.
Water is Life
“We have gone through a lot of financial and health issues before, and clean water literally saved our lives. So as much as possible, we want to empower our fellow-Filipinos through entrepreneurship and clean water,” Engr. Grace said. “Filipinos are even more cautious when it comes to water and are thus more aggressive now in terms of starting a business. We are thankful that some even fly to Manila all the way from Mindanao just to meet us, while some just fully entrust and pay the down payment through bank transfers because we have built the credibility of our brand and product.”
To this day, Engr.Grace, with her supportive husband Engr. Louie continue to empower fellow-entrepreneurs, regardless of age, status, attainment.
“We always do weekly seminars about the technical know-how’s and people management for all of our clients, so they can sustain their income,” she said. “Because if they are doing well, then they can pay us properly as well. It is give and take. We need to help them too. I always encourage them to have good management of their business and resources. You do not have to stay in your water station 24 hours a day. If you have strong influence over your employees because they respect the way you do things in a good manner, then you can manage your employees well and efficiently anywhere you are. Your employees will follow you out of respect and concern. They will help your business grow. The system and management that I apply with my own employees, is what I also teach our clients.”
Clearly an empowered woman who always gives much more and pays it forward. From September 2017, ALKAVIVA is committed to give away two water refilling stations to deserving communities. Engr.Grace and her husband Engr.Louie revealed a heart-tugging incident. “Last September, we had a Facebook promo wherein I asked our followers to write us a letter and send us some photos to prove why they deserve to have their own water refilling stations for free. One 17-year-old college girl`s testimony from Inarawan, Antipolo really touched me. I did not know that there’s still undeveloped areas in Antipolo, and that they do not have good roads or safe, potable, quality water for personal use. They get their water from a spring which they are not sure if it is safe or clean. They were drinking water direct from the same spring and right above it is the area where there were construction sites. We gave her her own water refilling station, and that was not just for her own sake, but also for the benefit of her entire community. Now, their entire town have access to clean water, and everyone can earn money from it through a cooperative system. I also gave away two-year course college scholarships to some children there.”
ALKAVIVA`s founders also gave away a free water station to the victims of typhoon Yolanda who are now relocated in Rosario, Cavite. “We thought, since the lives and livelihood of these Yolanda victims were destroyed by water, then water should be the one to raise them up, too. So we installed a water treatment technology and station there too, for that entire community to start anew. We did not give it to just one individual, because we want them to help each other as a community. Everyone in that town can drink from and earn money from their Alkaviva business,” she said. “We also gave them the same scholarship grants.”
As of this writing, some 300 scholarship grants nationwide have been awarded as part of the couple`s advocacy.
Learning from the Best
What can Engr. Grace and husband Engr. Louie Cristobal share to aspiring entrepreneurs? “First, you should make it a habit to have a positive mindset. Positive thinking helps you instinctively pray for knowledge and wisdom from God, for peace of mind so that you won’t need to worry about the financial aspect of things because you know that God provides. You are also led to pray to have smooth transactions, and as you have faith in the power of prayers, the Lord will also lead you to the right people to work with,” she said.
“Second, win over your clients with your heart’s good intentions. Third, build a good management system and sound marketing strategy. Trust that even if a competitor exists nearby, ALKAVIVA water can win, hands up. Because superior quality never runs out of customers who want value and quality. And since water is a basic human necessity, it will sell by itself. Your relationships with your employees and customers is what you consistently need to nurture,” she concluded.