The expansion of water-intensive industrial activities and the impacts of climate change are jeopardising the sufficiency of safe drinking water in several Southeast Asian countries. One is Viet Nam, where geogenic arsenic contamination further limits the availability of freshwater resources with a simultaneous increase in water demand. Innovative and sustainable water treatment technologies are required to meet these challenges. Complementarily, we assume that the provision of safe drinking water requires tailored business models (BMs). In this study, we focus on the key stakeholders and framework conditions to design tailored BMs providing safe drinking water to the low-income and middle-income population in Viet Nam. We consider decentralised technologies to be suitable due to their lower investment costs for implementation and the avoidance of strong path dependencies. We therefore conducted a literature review and interviews with international experts in the domain of decentralised water treatment technologies. Our results show that relevant aspects include a lack of financial resources, specific characteristics associated with Vietnamese culture, e.g. the importance of relationships and trust in the business domain, lack of education and vocational training, market saturation suggesting co-operation with existing water suppliers, lack of suitable partners, and deficiencies in the institutional environment.


  • Application of emerging market and base of the pyramid concepts to the case of decentralised water treatment technology in Viet Nam.

  • Using sustainable business models as a lens to uncover framework conditions that are relevant to ensure access to safe drinking water across income groups in an emerging country.

  • Offering a European perspective on technology supply for decentralised water treatment technologies in Viet Nam.

  • Improving the implementation of innovative decentralised water technologies with promise of sustainability using sustainable business models.

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