CABWI was founded in 1991 by the Water Services Association and Water Company Association (which became Water UK in 1998) to service the development and accreditation of vocational qualifications in the water industry and in response to vocational qualifications required by the 1991 Street Works Act. It has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the utilities sector and today the bulk of CABWI’s business lies in awarding Street Works qualifications. CABWI is now the only body awarding water NVQs.

CABWI became a charity in 2013, and while several donations were made in the early years as spare funds became available, it wasn’t until 2017-2019 that business had grown to a size that enabled CABWI to extend its charitable works.

By 2020 it was clear that CABWI needed to develop more formal structures to manage its donations and establish new grant-giving processes. A newly designed, easy to use app for Street Works qualifications and re-assessment launched in 2021 provided a step up in revenues, enabling the charity to allocate more funds to support key causes. With the support of an external consultant CABWI launched its first new funding round in 2022.

Recognising the importance of maintaining a focus on the assessment and awarding qualifications side of the business, the decision was taken to separate the functions. An operating company, CABWI Trading Limited, wholly owned by CABWI was incorporated in 2022. CABWI Trading Ltd now generates profits which are transferred to CABWI for distribution to charitable causes through the grant giving process. (https://www.cabwi.co.uk/).

By 2023, the level of funding administered by the charity had increased significantly. CABWI responded by increasing the size of its Trustee Board and created a new role in-house, to oversee the administration of the charity’s funds. The grants administrator is supported by a Trustee Board and Charity Sub-Committee.

CABWI continues to grow, and it aims to distribute almost £1m a year to charities and community organisations in the future.