Instead of focusing his energy on making a full recovery from dysentery, Mwale Joel was thinking of a master plan. At the age of 16, Mwale contracted dysentery from contaminated water that had been provided to his community during the dry season. The thought of having such a serious health risk in his community sparked an ingenious idea. With the help of some volunteers in his community, Mwale invested all of his savings, a total of $95, and began digging a borehole until he eventually found water. He installed a pump that would allow extraction of the water, subsequently providing clean water to over 500 households in his village.
The success of this project and the unfortunate turn of events that occurred afterwards ultimately led to the creation SkyDrop Enterprises. After the death of his father and being forced to drop out of school, Mwale was determined to find a way to pay his tuition and support his family. Coincidently, the idea for SkyDrop came to maturation while Mwale was caught in a rainstorm. Next to a small shop where he went to seek shelter, Mwale saw a water tank that was being used to store rain water and that’s when it occurred to him to trap rainwater, purify it and sell it to the public.
His inability to find lenders willing to invest in a 16 year old boy’s dream led Mwale to sell his family land. With the profit from this sale, Mwale bought a water purification machine, and paid for the cost of operation to produce low-cost drinking water. Rainwater was collected in the rain season and purified and sold in the dry season. Initially SkyDrop was only able at sell about 10 bottles a day but the company soon took off, selling 33,000 bottles in 2012. Mwale now has a fully functioning plant and employs over 20 people from his village. He has been able to replace the land he sold in order to fund SkyDrop and has funded the construction of 4 boreholes in surrounding communities.
In 2011 Mwale won the Anzisha Prize for youth leadership, which provided him with a two-year scholarship to the African Leadership Academy in South Africa as well as $30,000 dollars to support his business. In 2012 he also received $30,000 from the MasterCard Foundation to support SkyDrop. Mwlae is now working to expand his business to further impact his community.