CEO & Founder, Wello Water
Social entrepreneur Cynthia Koenig has helped launch multiple successful ventures, from community-run ecotourism businesses in Mexico and Guatemala to a national strategy for sustainable tourism in Bhutan. Living and working in water-scarce environments in Latin America and Africa inspired her to start her own company, Wello, in 2011. Ms. Koenig, who lives in New York City, earned a B.A degree from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, and two University of Michigan degrees, a M.S. (2007) from the School of Natural Resources and Environment and a M.B.A. (2011) from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Committed to consumer-driven design, Wello collaborated with villagers across rural India to design its flagship product, the WaterWheel, a 45-liter rolling water container that enables consumers to transport more water in less time than they could otherwise, allowing time for more productive activities, including attending school or earning income. Since May 2015, Wello has sold more than 15,000 WaterWheels across India, Ethiopia, Haiti, Malawi, Pakistan, and Zambia. In February 2017, Wello licensed distribution of the WaterWheel to Asia’s largest plastics company, with the goal of making WaterWheels more widely available. Wello is developing a range of components that will enable the WaterWheel to purify water and charge a mobile phone as it rolls. Ms. Koenig, a member of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainability External Advisory Board, has received, among other honors, Lean Impact’s 2014 Lean for Social Good Award. She was also an Unreasonable Fellow in 2011 and an Indian Institute of Management Water Fellow in 2015.
For her novel, sustainable innovations that are alleviating poverty in the developing world, the University of Michigan presents to Cynthia Koenig its Bicentennial Alumni Award.