Photo of Carolina Placencia

Energy & sustainability

Carolina Placencia

Its low-cost faucet filter improves drinking water quality in households.

Year Honored


Latin America

Hails From

One out of every three people in the world does not have access to safe drinking water, a total of 2.1 billion people according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. This is a problem that costs lives. Worldwide, according to Oxfam Intermón, 1.5 million children die each year from consuming contaminated water. Faced with this and other water-related problems, environmental engineer Carolina Placencia wanted to do something about it. The Ecuadorian discovered this situation when she moved to another country and could not drink tap water because of the excess of chlorine. The alternatives, bottled water and existing filtering systems, were very expensive. 

Upon returning to Ecuador, Placencia decided to apply his scientific knowledge to find a low-cost solution that could reach the neediest households. Thus, Yakupura was born, an "ecological, easy-to-install and inexpensive filter that reduces chlorine, heavy metals, pesticides and improves the pH of the water," she explains. Yaku means water in Quechua. For this breakthrough, Placencia has become one of the winners of MIT Technology Review's Innovators Under 35 Latin America 2022 in Spanish. 

In Ecuador, current water purification systems are expensive. With Yakupura, Placencia seeks to solve water problems by providing practical, economical and environmentally friendly solutions to obtain safe water. Its filter has a more affordable cost than others. Another advantage is that it does not require installation systems. It is also portable.  The young woman states, "Water is a matter of life and death." 

After an initial focus on water quality at home with her prototype of a coconut-based activated carbon filter, the innovator is now looking to increase the quantity, availability and quality of water in general. Placencia sees her start-up as having a triple impact by improving society and the environment while being profitable. In addition to the first filter, the environmental engineer has also designed a filtration jug. She is now working on a larger dispenser for restaurants and hotels and a thermos with a built-in filter. 

With Yakupura, Placencia wants to democratize access to drinking water in areas where it is available but unfit for human consumption. Thanks to the expansion of the product portfolio and its internationalization, the young woman seeks to maximize the triple impact of her ecological filters. The engineer says: "In five years we envision ourselves as the number one company in Latin America in providing water filtration solutions."