For more than ten years, Renotec has been a structural partner of Ondernemers voor Ondernemers (OVO). As a leader in piping technologies for sewer and water mains and wells, the activities of Join for Water are particularly close to Renotec's heart. In February 2020, just before the dreaded corona pandemic erupted in all its ferocity, two Renotec employees went to Uganda for an immersion trip along Join for Water projects.
From preliminary study to completion
"Supporting OVO and, through OVO, Join for Water financially is and remains important to us," says Gerlinde Lauwers, "but Renotec wants to do more. We really want to involve people in projects, in different ways. That is why two of our employees, Gilles Neerinckx and Jens Nuyens, went on an immersion trip. They visited Join for Water projects in Uganda."
"The projects we visited were in different stages. While preliminary studies were still underway for one project, another was in full swing. Yet another project had been completed. This gave us a good insight into the way Join for Water and its local partners work," says Gilles Neerinckx.
Metamorphosis of a fishing village
"One of the places we visited was a fishing village on Lake George," says Jens Nuyens, "In the past, everything really happened here on the waterfront. The fishermen would catch the fish and throw the waste back into the lake, which was used by the entire village as a toilet, the villagers would wash themselves, the cattle would drink here, ... You can imagine how hygienic it was."
Today, the village looks completely different. "There is now a jetty where the fish is cleaned, the waste is no longer thrown back into the lake. There are also toilets in the village and the watering place for the animals is a few hundred meters away from the lake. A solar-powered pump pumps the water to the watering place. The shoreline has become a social meeting place. These are all small measures, but they have a big impact on people, animals and the environment," describes Jens.
"Small measures have a big impact on people, animals and the environment."
Strong commitment from company and employees
So what was the goal of the immersion trip? "In time, we would like to share our knowledge and our applications with the local population. We want to give opportunities to communities, let them help build water projects so that they can be responsible for the maintenance. We also want to use local suppliers. During the immersion trip, Gilles and Jens were able to see with their own eyes what the local needs are and which partners from the Join for Water network could support us," Gerlinde Lauwers explains.
To make the immersion trip possible and increase employee engagement, Renotec organized several activities, ranging from a paid fitness campaign to the sale of healthy meals. "The meals and ingredients came from suppliers near our company, many of which are connected to a charity. We also engage locally," smiles Gerlinde.
Loyal, structural partner of OVO
"Under the inspiration of our then CEO, Renotec committed itself as a partner to OVO more than ten years ago. We have become a loyal, structural partner. And we want to stay that way for a long time," says Gerlinde Lauwers.
Meanwhile, Renotec is also supporting the OVO Acceleration Fund. "Through this fund we give African entrepreneurs a boost. After all, with a sustainable business plan it is possible to invest the proceeds back into the local economy so that in the long term no more support is needed. For us, this way of investing is much more sustainable than a one-time support."
Text: Carl Van Kerkhoven