About the business of water conservation

Observer writer

Sunday, June 24, 2018

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Leanne Spence is a young CEO determined to change the way Jamaica looks at water conservation. And it all started due to an investigation of an unexplainable spike in Spence's family restaurant business while doing her MBA.

The Spences found a solution that cut the water bill by 30 per cent. She then convinced her MBA cohort to do a class project to determine the feasibility of starting a business using conservation equipment in residential and commercial businesses.

On a pilot installation, they helped Mother's Enterprise save more than $190,000 monthly on water bills and recover their investment within the first four months of installation of their water-saving solution. As a result of the pilot, Mother's Enterprise has outfitted many other stores with the solution. This validated their idea.

And thus began the business of Instant Save Conservation Solutions.

“We started in 2014 and we partner with clients to understand how to best help them conserve water and lower their utilities. Technologies are available that make water conservation easy. Even something as simple as the installation of an aerator that costs $600 can result in dramatic savings at the faucet. It is important to note that the use of water has a direct impact on the use of electricity as well,” Spence explained.

Her mission as a young entrepreneur is about changing mindsets.

“Water conservation doesn't have to mean sacrifice; being efficient just means doing more with less by using better technologies and practices … as well, we want to educate people on the financial benefits of changing their traditional plumbing equipment to those meeting certain standards of efficiency (gallons per minute or gallons per flush).”

And if it seems Spence has a sense of urgency, it is because most people don't know that, in most cases, “water costs you twice because you pay for sewage after you use the water. That is double the cost that you may be wasting, especially if you have leaks from less efficient fixtures.”

Spence encourages people to take a long-term view of their investment in upgrading their water equipment.

At the Small Business Association of Jamaica headquarters, we sat down with Spence to determine what drives her to operate in this industry.

1. Tell us where your motivation comes from as a young CEO.

I'm motivated to make a positive impact in the field of water security because I know it is needed and required to safeguard the supply for future generations. At the same time, it makes a tangible difference in people's lives. I also have a strong support system of family, friends and colleagues, some of whom are business owners as well. They believe in me and the vision of the company and that drives me too.

2. What is the need that you are driven to fullfil?

We still remember the drought in 2014 — water is precious. Yet it's not given the attention it deserves. Instant Save is helping to bring this awareness to individuals and businesses alike. Our work is about offering solutions to the market that assist in conscious decision-making about conserving and efficiently using our precious water resources. And it's not only to help save money, but it comes back to securing future supply.

3. How are you building your team to help you chart success?

Selecting my team for growth and scaling is a critical part of my focus currently. So I'm always on the hunt for good people who believe in our vision and who are aligned to our values. We're also open to exploring partnerships as a strategy to grow and scale our business for greater impact. Training and continuous education are also key to our development.

4. What advice would you give to other young people looking to work for themselves?

Tap into your interests, passions, natural abilities and curiosity, and look for opportunities to solve issues in your space and globally. Start networking early and learn from the first-hand experiences of fellow entrepreneurs in your community. Join some of the trade associations. Go where the influencers hang out and offer help before you start asking for help. Find a mentor or mentorship programme. (I'm currently a part of the Women Innovators Network of the Caribbean (WINC) and it's powerful!)

5. Where do you see your business in the next five years?

In the next five years I see Instant Save as a leader in the development and implementation of innovative solutions in the water sector for Jamaica and the Caribbean, aligned with our mission to improve water security and make a positive impact in people's lives.

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