Her company treats wastewater to make it drinkable

Published on by in Case Studies

Her company treats wastewater to make it drinkable

A twist of the tap in our HDB flat and immediately, we can quench our thirst with fresh, clean water. But this isn’t the case for many less-privileged communities around the world, who either cannot afford it, or do not have access to it. 

According to the United Nations, one in three people worldwide does not have access to clean drinking water, and billions of people still lack water sanitation. This is where Watch Water aims to make a difference. 

In 2015, entrepreneur Ivy Heng, 52, set up water treatment company Watch Water, together with her husband Kelvin Chen, 58, who has more than 20 years' experience in the water and wastewater industry.

In collaboration with a partner in Germany, Watch Water uses German water treatment innovation and technology to enhance drinking water in Asia, and treat industrial, commercial and residential wastewater before it is discharged back to the environment.  

Ms Heng says: “We don’t just make water clean and safe. We also transform it into healthy water by enriching it with calcium, magnesium and oxygen, and converting it to alkaline water with a pH level of 7.2 to 7.5." 

Watch Water’s industrial water treatment solutions are made affordable so that they can be adopted by many industries in Asia. “Every client we serve results in millions of litres of wastewater being made safe for the planet once again,” she says.

The company was recognised as an Honouree in the Brands For Good 2020 awards, under the Leadership For Good category. This award recognises purpose-driven brands, companies and/or individuals that have shown industry and ethical leadership towards meeting impact goals and social change.

Ms Heng says: “If businesses can contribute socially to society, this will not only lighten the burden of governments, but also make the world a better place to live in.”

Japanese philosophy

At the heart of Watch Water’s social mission is Ms Heng’s management philosophy to put people before profits. 

She is inspired by Japanese philanthropist and entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori, who developed a management system that prioritises employee mental happiness over profits or high share prices. Ms Heng believes in mentoring and developing people, from employees to business partners, as well as other small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

Amid the financial challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of cutting staff costs, she found a way to grow revenues by quickly deploying a new disinfectant product, Virol-oxy, created by Watch Water's German partner, to 10 distributors in Malaysia. As a result, Watch Water did not have to lay off a single employee. In the downtime, the firm also encouraged its workers to upgrade their skills and knowledge.

To help fellow SME business owners through the economic downturn, Ms Heng provides free consultation and business advice via Watch Water Academy, which she set up to mentor next-generation owners of family businesses. “When the SMEs do well, it means job retention and job creation for the people of Singapore,” she says.

This year, Watch Water plans to launch a new mobile application called Watch Family Defender 3000. The app will share information and knowledge on the importance of clean and healthy water (Watch Water German technology water filters), good air (Watch Water Ionizer) and a good environment (German disinfectant Virol-oxy). 

It will also offer collective or group-buying opportunities for products and services such as water and air filters, and air-conditioner servicing at reduced prices.

The company plans to contribute a percentage of the profits from Watch Family Defender 3000 to charity.