Name: Dr Stephanie Terreni Brown.

Age: 36.

What is your business called?

Clean Water Wave CIC.

Where is it based?


What does it produce, what services does it offer?

The Clean Aqua For Everyone water treatment system. CAFE is our unique product for low energy decentralised treatment of water. CAFE means high quality water can be delivered without mains electricity supply or lots of maintenance or reliance on chemicals for treatment purposes. It is a plug and play piece of kit designed to be robust and extremely long lasting.

To whom does it sell?

We have territory-specific distributors who have bought the license to our product for commercial sales. These commercial sales are to mining companies, the agricultural sector, and water treatment companies (for drinking water treatment and for wastewater tertiary treatment). We are also working with other social enterprises like Challenges Worldwide to develop a different business model for low income communities for drinking water and agricultural water treatment purposes.

What is its turnover?

TBC! This is our first year of trading.

How many employees?


When was it formed?

July 2017.

Why did you take the plunge?

Our team share experiences of working and living in situations where we have seen the impact that drinking contaminated water has on a daily basis – the illness and devastation wrought by the consumption of dirty water. However, none of us had seen any water treatment system that we felt was fully functional and effective in rural or low-income urban contexts. There is a lot of clever technology out there that cleans water – but in our view it’s often far too expensive, energy-intensive, and maintenance-heavy to be effective for rural and small-scale community use.

We were sure we could do something better and felt it would be criminal for us not to at least try and develop a system that was, as far as possible, simple and easy to maintain but still did a great job of treating water! And that’s what we’ve been doing ever since we were officially incorporated in 2017 – developing, testing and trialling our technology to provide clean water to rural or low income communities. We started developing the CAFE system with low and middle income countries in mind, but soon realised that there was also a domestic market for CAFE.

We developed the technology with a lot of determination, effort, and a ‘try and try again’ approach! Our two technical minds, Howard and Matthew, spent a lot of their evenings and weekends working out the engineering specifics, with all of us working together to build different iterations and discussing what we needed to design out for the system to be as simple and effective as possible.

Our main focus was bringing together the minds who could conquer the challenge. We are a group of pioneers, scientists, philanthropists, economists and storytellers who can challenge the way clean water is provided globally. Together, we have the scientific, technical, commercial and critical community engagement skills to deliver and make the Clean Water Wave mission a reality.

As an example, a key breakthrough was our partnership with Dryden Aqua and the involvement of Howard Dryden. Our technology works due to the AFM activated filter media, supplied by Dryden Aqua. AFM is an activated media based on Howard’s PhD research and manufactured by Dryden Aqua by up-cycling 50 per cent of all the coloured glass bottles in Scotland and Switzerland.

We’re a social enterprise with a unique business model that sees us reinvesting all profits from selling the CAFE to commercial partners into funding CAFE installations for communities in need.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I was a management consultant, and before that an academic studying water and sanitation-related issues in East Africa.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

A combination of private low-interest loans and public sector grants.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

It’s a privilege to work with the awesome people I work with, and to work towards achieving such a fundamental right to have safe water.

What do you least enjoy?

I struggled at the beginning to get to grips with online accounting software and it stressed me out a lot. But now, I actually quite enjoy it. Having a knowledgeable accountant has been critical to helping me feel confident too (shout out to Mark from Arcata!)

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Both governments are committed to driving innovation, yet a lot of public pots of money – particularly those that are intended to help develop tech and innovation – are not open to social enterprises. This seems bonkers to me. Social enterprises are businesses. Both governments also need to better understand the impact of water quality on our environment.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Product development takes a lot of time. And money. And constant pushing. Knowing more about manufacturing processes would have been extremely valuable at the start.

How do you relax?

Relax?! I have a 12-month old baby, a bouncy dog, and a vibrant business!