There are those who talk about saving the world, and then there’s Allison Tummon Kamphuis. Since June 2008, she has overseen the distribution of 60 million PUR packets—a Procter & Gamble product that purifies dirty water in about a half hour—around the world, and plans to distribute 100 million packets in the next year as P&G opens a second manufacturing line. The investment comes in spite of the fact that the PUR packets aren’t adding anything tangible to the company’s balance sheet. Kamphuis, a 2007 MBA graduate, is a senior specialist for Children’s Safe Drinking Water, a nonprofit organization created by P&G. More than 1 billion people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water, and as a result 1.8 million children die from diarrhea-related illnesses each year. A PUR packet removes intestinal bacteria and viruses when it’s stirred into 10 liters of water (about 2.5 gallons). That’s enough to last a family of five a day.
“I feel very fortunate to get to contribute to something that contributes significantly to helping people’s lives,” Kamphuis says. “This has an immediate impact. It’s tangible.”
P&G began the program in 2004, after the PUR packets failed to catch on as a traditional retail product—unlike the brand’s other water filter products. The packets are sold at cost—about 3.5 cents each—to nongovernmental organizations that hand them out in emergencies or sell them along with other health-related items.
Before joining Children’s Safe Drinking Water in 2008, Kamphuis spent about 12 years managing clinical pharmaceutical trials for P&G all over the world. The Canadian native has been based in Cincinnati since 2001, and she leapt at the chance to take on a new role after getting her MBA and having two daughters. Despite the new job’s wide reach, it involves little travel, and she’s one of just four people operating Children’s Safe Drinking Water. “It’s a small nonprofit enterprise inside the global company that is Procter & Gamble,” Kamphuis says. But it makes a huge difference in the lives of people around the globe.