Lingnan's entrepreneurs act to solve the problem of water resources in Africa
Every country, region, society and community has its own problems to solve: a glass of clean water is not a challenge for Hong Kongers, but it may be a luxury for people in some African countries.
"I experienced the scarcity of clean drinking water in Uganda. They do not have water filters, and most people just drink water directly from a pool shared with animals." Carly Leung Pui-yee recalls her experiences on a Joint Humanitarian Entrepreneurship Summer Academy in Africa organised by the Lingnan Entrepreneurship Initiative. "In Africa, especially Uganda, there are three months of rainy season and three months of drought. During the drought, people need to travel a long way to get water, and so clean water may not always be available," she explains.
After graduating in 2019 from LU’s Bachelor of Social Sciences (Psychology major), Carly worked for an NGO, and about a year later she decided to attend the Summer Academy in Uganda again at her own expense. With LU’s Innovation and Impact Fund, she and classmates Gordon Tse King-chun and Dave Poon Tik-ki founded Asaqua to design and produce affordable folding water tanks to contribute to solving the water problem. "Most local people use roof gutters with water pipes to guide water into plastic bottles for storage. Our solution is to direct the water into tanks with a capacity of up to three-months usage equipped with pipes and faucets for direct use,” Carly says.
With LU’s Innovation and Impact Fund, Carly and her classmates founded Asaqua to design and produce affordable folding water tanks to contribute to solving the water problem in Africa.
While continuing to adjust and improve the tanks, Asaqua and its African partners have installed more than 10 prototypes in low-income homes for testing and collecting data in preparation for mass production.
Carly has also recently launched the online platform “Interestant” with the support of the Yan Oi Tong Youth Space. "We collaborate with a production company in Tuen Mun to provide training and internship opportunities for university and secondary school students who are interested in making videos. Some of the funding goes to the production company, so that the cooperation is a win-win situation." Carly explains that, learning from her own problems in adolescence, she hopes to use this platform to help teenagers to be positive and prepare them for the future.
Carly is not only a social entrepreneur, but also works full-time at the LU Office of Service-Learning, where she organises Integrated Learning Programme (ILP) activities for students. "As an LU graduate myself, I have a strong tie with ILP," she says. "During my undergraduate days, I naturally focused on studying the main subjects, and I found the ILP very annoying. When I graduated, however, I discovered how much I had learned and understood. Now I know how to apply my own experience with different perspectives to develop sustainable activities that meet students’ needs, hopes and desires. My relationship with final year students and recent graduates also helps me understand what challenges they face, so I can suggest projects or courses that help them in their chosen paths.”
The Hostel Entrepreneurship Laboratory has recently been set up by her team and the Office of Student Affairs. "What is LU’s distinctive feature? The 10 hostels. In competitions, we encourage residents to explore new ways of solving problems facing the Tuen Mun community, and plan to eventually establish an innovative and entrepreneurial ecosystem on the LU campus."
Asked about the impact of LU’s liberal arts education on her, Carly says "In the beginning, I feel that many classmates and myself did not truly understand what a Liberal Arts Education and LU’s motto ‘Education for service’ meant. But as time goes by, I realise it is a goal to strive for and you must push yourself out of your comfort zone.
"The most important things I have gained from my undergraduate training in psychology are the soft skills, including communication skills. Now I am very good at dealing with different people, at knowing how to engage partners and persuade audiences, reporters and investors – and at finding more opportunities for self and business development."
Carly is grateful for all the opportunities to go abroad provided by LU, including a summer internship programme in Ireland for a public relations company.
As a very outgoing person, who once visited Europe on her own with just a backpack, Carly is grateful for all the opportunities to go abroad provided by LU. "My adventures as a summer intern in a public relations company in Ireland were invaluable. Of course, what impressed me the most was the Summer Academy… when I saw the problems the world faces, I realised mine were actually very small. With a broader vision and horizon, I now know how to look at life from different angles, and I am inspired to believe that I can always do something to help others, and expand that into my own business at the same time.”
Carly’s experience is an exemplar of the Lingnan liberal arts education: to inspire students to tackle society’s problems with restructuring and a humanitarian approach.