Portfolio Learnings: How HappyTap is changing handwashing behaviour in Bangladesh

Published on: 14/12/2020

HappyTap, a social business that produces and distributes a portable sink for low-income communities, takes the spotlight in the latest article in our Portfolio Learnings series.

After launching successfully in Vietnam, HappyTap joined forces with TRANSFORM to take its aspirational yet affordable solution to Bangladesh. The solution – a mass-produced portable sink – is designed to remove structural barriers that prevent people from washing their hands with soap.

It not only enables access to handwashing infrastructure, but also addresses the low rate of handwashing in Bangladesh by bridging the gap between knowledge and practice. A significant part of the project is therefore encouraging behaviour change, making handwashing more convenient, accessible, and fun.

Launching in Bangladesh

It took two years of groundwork and prototyping for HappyTap to gain a solid understanding of the behaviour and practices of Bangladeshi consumers, before launching the product onto the market.

With support from TRANSFORM, HappyTap was able to recruit key staff, conduct market research, deliver a multi-channel marketing campaign, establish manufacturing, scale-up distribution, and investigate further regional expansion. During this time, HappyTap Bangladesh has:

  • Developed a clearer understanding of consumer expectations;
  • Adapted the design of the HappyTap to meet the needs of low-income consumers and established its operations and manufacturing; 
  • Set up two distributors and several indirect distributing partners;
  • Partnered with schools to reach a large number of children and promote handwashing through different campaigns;
  • Explored partnerships with various government and non-governmental agencies to undertake activation and awareness campaigns in order to reach millions of people;
  • Leveraged marketing materials to promote handwashing to a large number of consumers e.g. through Facebook; 
  • Established a dedicated sales and business development team and built team capacity;
  • Teamed up with national e-commerce giants to reach consumers online.

While it has faced some challenges, such as getting set up as a business in Bangladesh and finalising the design and mould, one challenge in particular actually unfolded some key opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic drove HappyTap to scale-up sooner than expected, ramping up the production and distribution capacity in Bangladesh and launching campaigns on the importance of handwashing in the fight against the virus. 

The future of HappyTap

To achieve its mission of enabling 10 million people to consistently wash their hands by 2024, HappyTap’s plan for the future focuses on partnerships, marketing, and distribution.

Along with the planned scale-up and expansion to other countries (India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Philippines, and Indonesia), HappyTap is also aiming to innovate similarly impactful WASH-related products for low-income consumers and change behaviours to improve the health of underserved communities.

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