Magna Water: What even is it?
Recently, certain locally-based 'free water' startups have been making waves on Facebook. These initiatives promise to provide free, clean drinking water to the general public by integrating ads on the plastic bottles the water would come in. But how do these initiatives work and where is this bottled water coming from? We recently caught up with one of these initiatives, 'Magna Water'—literally meaning free water—to talk about their plans, goals, and details regarding this project.
What is their goal?
According to the founders, Magna Water was launched in January 2024 by Muhammad Habib, Ahmed Habib, and Farhan Tajwar Ahmed. "Our goal is simple: we want to supply free water to everyone—regardless of classes—with the cost of the water covered by ads on our bottles," explained Ahmed Habib, Co-founder and CEO of Magna Water. "We charge a certain amount of money to the company giving the ads, and based on their demands and instructions, we will provide water to people in need."
Magna Water shared that they were inspired by FreeWater, a US-based company with the exact same mission objective: deliver free, clean drinking water to people on bottles with ads from local companies. "An initiative like Free Water was needed in Bangladesh, and through Magna Water, we want to eradicate waterborne diseases and provide water to every class of people," they shared.
The founders claimed that they have received over 8,000 orders of bottled water so far, with local companies providing them ads to support their endeavour. "We plan to officially begin operation on February 1," said Ahmed, adding that the current team will be in charge of physically distributing the bottles to the general public. However, they plan on increasing manpower once their operation scales up.
Method of distribution
According to Magna Water's plans shared with The Daily Star, they plan to hand free water to the general public in specially dedicated areas in Dhaka. "We will have zones in, for example, places like Bailey Road and Agargaon, where we will publicly distribute water to passersby," said Ahmed. However, he added the distribution method, channel and location will also get influenced by the companies who provide ads on the bottles. "To sustain ourselves and progress our vision, we will also distribute water to the target audience determined by the advertising companies," said Ahmed.
When asked about existing outlets, Magna Water added, "We don't have any physical outlets, but after some revenue, we plan on having stalls and vending machines where the public will gain access to free water." Once their operation is properly launched, they plan on notifying the public about their dedicated zones and outlets through their Facebook page.
Where is this bottled water coming from?
As Magna Water promises "free, clean drinking water", it is important to determine where the water is coming from. When asked about it, Ahmed shared, "The water is mostly being distributed from a plant in Comilla, called Life." However, he declined to share details about which company or entity owns this particular manufacturing plant, stating that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreement with the plant disallows him from sharing the name.
A similar response was received when asked about which local companies have so far agreed to support their order of 8,000 bottles. "We aren't allowed to disclose the names of the advertising companies because of an MoU with them," said Ahmed.
The water Magna Water plans on distributing will come in a plastic bottle, and when asked about where the bottle will come from, Magna Water founders said the same Cumilla manufacturing plant is producing the plastic bottle as well.
The reliance on plastic bottles raises an obvious environmental concern - for which Magna Water claims that they are working with a company named Wastech BD for plastic waste recycling management. "By this recycling method alone we will be able to give jobs to 20-30 people," Ahmed Habib added.
Magna Water, as per the CEO Ahmed Habib, doesn't have any investors yet and is currently being bootstrapped by the three co-founders. The founders and the aforementioned advertising companies—names still undisclosed—will be responsible for the manufacturing cost of the bottled water. According to the founders, they have also applied for a trade licence and hope to receive it in the following days.