Solar Water Pumps
with Helen Davies (Futurepump)

In this episode, we speak to Helen Davies from Futurepump, a solar water pump manufacturing company. Futurepump produces solar water pumps that are targeted at small holder farmers in Africa and Asia, enabling farmers to improve irrigation for their land.

Listen to us on Apple Podcast, Red Circle, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcast streaming platform!

Podcast Summary

We discuss:

  • The need for water pumps as a method of irrigation for smallholder farms, and the benefits of mechanical irrigation

  • The environmental, financial and social benefits of solar water pumps, compared to manual irrigation or petrol pumps

  • Futurepump's DC technology and plans for growth

  • Futurepump's go-to-market approach and strategy

Show notes

  • (0:40) Introduction to Futurepump and how they got started with a solar steam pump and transitioned into a solar PV pump

  • (2:20) Overview of the SF2: reciprocal piston pump

  • (3:00) The need for irrigation pumps for smallholder farmers and alternative irrigation methods

  • (4:20) The economics of a solar water pump; entrepreneurial ways to improve the RoI of a solar pump

  • (6:30) The costs of a solar water pump vs. diesel or petrol water pump; the additional time costs of acquiring diesel and petrol; Futurepump's approach to providing a warranty on their products

  • (9:00) Futurepump's provision of a five-year warranty for their devices; importance of building consumer trust

  • (11:10) Their go-to-market strategy to reach their customers and scale quickly; working with Tier 1 and Tier 2 distributors

  • (14:50) Financing solutions for the products; the remote monitoring control and data collection from water pumps; payment solutions offered via Tier 1/2 distributors

  • (17:00) The moral questions around switching off solar water pumps if farmers are not able to pay their instalments

  • (19:20) Surface vs. submersible water pumps: Futurepump's focus on surface water pumps

  • (22:50) The social and environmental impact of their devices: carbon emission reductions by avoiding petrol and diesel pumps; freeing up time for women and children instead of manual irrigation approaches; improved (solar) flow rates for solar water pumps

  • (26:40) The challenges around distributing the solar water pumps; logistic challenges; cost barriers - the need to reduce the prices of devices

  • (28:50) A new, smaller, cheaper product recently launched; considering direct sale approaches to reduce costs further.

Photo Credit: Futurepump, Peter Arwa