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Ornit Avidar

Founder & Managing Director, WaterWays Solutions Ltd; Former Diplomat

What are you passionate about? Do you want to change the world, leave a legacy, make a difference to society?

What’s stopping you?

If you have something in your heart, just read this story of Ornit Avidar and you will be inspired to just do it! Let’s get you going!

I interviewed Ornit because she is one of the women sharing her tips in an online program Prime Women launched to help women shape their second acts. More of that later, but for now just sit back and learn from Ornit!

Ornit has been a diplomat, CEO of a high-tech company, investor and currently writing her PhD  But it was when she was working in private equity that her passion began, “I was asked to research the issue of water for investment. And I fell in love with water and I understood that water is my future. I wanted to help countries in Africa to get clean water.”

Ornit set up WaterWays and started researching the issues in depth. She travelled to Niger, Madagascar, Cameroon, Kenya, Burkino Faso and more. She had been hesitant about having enough technical expertise to understand how best to help these countries. But what she found surprised her, “I was travelling deep into rural areas – often very difficult nine-hour journeys by car. What I kept finding was there was often an abundance of water – but not clean water for people to drink and use. And the big issue was more about politics and social issues.”

She realized her maturity gave her strengths to look at problems with a new perspective, “I realized a lot of what I was seeing was just not logical. Yes, there were people in NGOs doing a lot of good things, but we all needed to take a step back and look at the problem differently. I call this an ability of age.”

Ornit developed a methodology to bring sustainable water to rural areas in Africa – and it focuses on tackling the political and social issues first, then deciding which technology is needed, which is the relatively easy bit, because there is a lot of existing and relevant technology. And what she found was her people and motivating skills were more important than her technical knowledge and skills.

Her advice to others is to work out what skills you have first, “In my case I realized my strengths are people and motivating others – I was a diplomat for years travelling the world and this is what I am really good at.  And that is the issue with water – the tech is not the problem, but it’s working with people, motivating them to realize there are different ways to solve the issue and helping people realize they can do something about it.  It doesn’t have to be the way it always has.”

Then she looked to see what other help she needed and consulted experts to understand more. Through this she formed partnerships with networks and tech companies to make all this happen.

WaterWays provides water solutions to rural areas and has developed an ecosystem with a network of contacts, companies and tech.  Its vision is to bring a generic, comprehensive water solution from village to village – working with partners and co-ordinating with them.

Has this reminded you of a passion? Is there something at the back of your mind you always wanted to change? Is this the time for you to do it – and like Ornit, can you draw on your ‘ability of age’?

If you want help to make this work, join Prime Women’s online program – five 90-minute sessions over several weeks, with a small group of your peers. You will cover how to create a plan for a life on your terms and gain skills in personal branding, strategic networking, LinkedIn and more to make your plan happen. Click here for information and to book your place – this is limited to just ten women. You will hear more insights from Ornit and other women who have made stunning transitions – to become board directors, entrepreneurs, a wine writer and even having a TV show!

Written by Victoria Tomlinson, Next Up