Sometimes it takes a near-death experience to make you assess your life, where you are going and what legacy you want to leave behind.

Certainly that was the case for Helmi Ansari. At the top of his game, working for Pepsi, he had everything he could have wanted, until he almost lost what was most precious to him – his daughter.

Visiting Pakistan with her mother and siblings, she contracted Cholera and was deathly ill. Only a toddler at the time, it was scary for her parents, especially Helmi who was still in Canada, worrying about her from afar. She pulled through, but life was never the same for the Ansari family.

Cholera is a deadly disease caused by drinking unclean, contaminated water and the Ansari couple decided after this experience to tackle this issue. At his presentation to Rotary, Helmi showed photos of the rivers where the women would go to collect the water, and it just made you cringe. The water was filthy, with animals bathing in the river and more. Little wonder people got sick.

Building a business from their basement, Mehreen, Helmi’s wife began their social enterprise, selling coffee and tea equipment. They became a B corporation meaning that they were giving part of their proceeds to water purification equipment that they shipped to countries where unsafe water was an issue.

Using equipment that was designed, engineered and made in Canada, Helmi explained that they chose biosand water filters because they are ideally suited to purify water in the most remote areas that have unsafe water. These filters require little or no maintenance, and are made of cement, sand, gravel and clay.

They don’t need electricity, chemicals or replacement filter cartridges, and last up to 30 years. They are ideally suited for warm temperate climates and are now made locally – creating employment and skill in the areas that need it most.
Fast forward to today and both Helmi and Mehreen work in the business. They are installing water purification equipment in South Sudan, Malawi, Philippines, Pakistan and South India and have funded over 100 million days of safe drinking water for people in need.

Their coffee, tea and water products are sold across Canada – in the Bay and Home Outfitters. They have a storefront in Guelph, twelve employees and actively give back to their local community too. As Helmi shares, they are living the dream. Instead of waiting until they had amassed a large amount of money to give away, they are making a difference now.
Their slogan is “every cup fills another.” And they sure have.

If you wish to support their work, shop online at

Anne Day

Anne Day

Company of Women

I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.