The invention that’s changing thousands of lives

Entrepreneur Askwar Hilonga, winner of Pitch@Palace, shares the inspiration behind his business

Tell us about your invention

I invented a low-cost water filter called Nanofilter which cleans contaminated water in order to make it drinkable. Right now there are about 150 water stations which provide clean, affordable water to about 8,000 people a day in Tanzania. My goal for 2017 is to create 1,000 water stations, serving up to 100,000 people a day.

How did you come up with the idea?

Growing up, my community in Tanzania didn’t have clean drinking water, and I will never forget how horrible that was. I used to get worms because the water I drank was so dirty, and wished someone would make it easy for us to access clean water. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands and help solve the problem facing my community: I did a PhD in Chemical Engineering and invented the Nanofilter.

Why did you pitch your invention to Pitch@Palace?

I wanted to make more connections to get funding. It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to present your business idea in front a global audience of influencers. I met around 300 investors and mentors, and got far more in return than I expected. New doors were opened to me, especially after I became a winner. I made connections which helped me get funding and I got to meet world-famous entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, which was beyond my wildest dreams!

What is your top tip for the perfect pitch?

Let the people you’re pitching to see your passion. In my experience, it was a huge factor in getting investors to pay attention and believe in my business.

How has Standard Chartered helped your business?

I have a great mentor – Shelley Soor – from the Private Banking business. It’s great having someone to bounce ideas off of and introduce me to useful connections. She even helped me refine my project proposal when I was applying for grants.

Standard Chartered Private Bank has sponsored Pitch@Palace since 2016. Interested in turning your business dreams into a reality? Find out more here