Six weeks after securing €535,000 of grant investments, most of the team are focused on building the first Akvo tools. Yet while the pressure is on to deliver operational tools for partners quickly, reality also forces us to focus right now on securing the funding for the years ahead.

Contracts for the initial grants have now mostly been signed, and I’d like to thank all these investors for being very forthcoming to overcome administrative obstacles and formalities, so we can get the contributions into the Akvo bank account.

Our business plan forecasts financial sustainability in the fourth year of operations, mainly by charging funding groups and NGOs a modest subscription fee for the use of certain key functions in the Akvo Matchmaking and Akvo RSR modules. Corporate Social Marketing programmes and consulting services will be big contributors, too, where we will offer tailored project matchmaking services and consumer reporting tools. These tools will enable FMCG brands to cost-effectively manage innovative new campaigns that engage their customers in direct funding of small-scale water and sanitation projects, on a large scale.

Akvo cashflow forecast

For now, we have to be financed by a combination of grants, subsidies and soft loans as depicted in the diagram above. Our aim is to secure all funding necessary to bridge the coming years, before we get to Stockholm Water Week 2008 in late August.

The brown shading (Grants) represents our second stage funding, which has now been secured. Frederik Claasen, previously a banker at ABN Amro, helped us refine a business plan that positions us to secure a soft loan (blue box). Frederik has been developing our specific offer for specialist development bankers and we have a long list of organisations to meet over the next few months. We’ll pursue our five star candidates into the summer. Any reactions here are most welcome.

Decision-making in Subsidy tracks (yellow shading) can take a long time – NWP’s experience over the years is a timeframe of 6 to 12 months. So we’ve already submitted two proposals for support.

One is a proposal to the Schokland Funds of the Dutch Ministry for Development Cooperation. This subsidises up to 40% of the costs of innovative initiatives that contribute to the Millennium Development Goals, and would help fill our ‘Subsidy’ (yellow) space. We expect the results to be made public on the 1st of July, so that will be an important day for us.

On the 7th of April we received notification from EuropeAid in Brussels that our application (concept note) for support from a call for ‘Non State Actors and Local Authorities in Development – Actions in partner countries’, passed the administrative check. This confirms we got through the onerous EU paperwork hurdle, a feat in itself. In a matter of weeks I expect to get notification whether we actually passed the first round.

So I’m comfortable that we are on the right track. I will write about our partner developments separately soon.

Peter van der Linde is director of partnerships at Akvo