$1.4 million. Who wouldn't want that? Think of what it could buy:

  • A six-bedroom, seven-bath home in greater St. Louis.
  • A Bugatti Veyron 16.4 automobile. It can hit 250 mph, and can reach 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. (I don't know how many cupholders it has.)
  • An annuity that, growing at 7% per year, could pay you almost $100,000 per year for 40 years.
  • Approximately a year's salary for TJX Companies CEO Carol Meyrowitz.

Of course, imagining how to spend it is sometimes easier than thinking of how to acquire it, no? Here's one way you can get your hands on that sum, though: Start with $65,000. Invest it so that you earn an annual average of 13% over the coming 25 years. Then, voila! $1.4 million. I know, you might be grumbling that you don't have $65,000 -- or 25 years. Well, if you add money to the pile each year, it'll take less time, and grow faster. And while a 13% average annual growth rate is higher than the stock market's 10% historical average, it's not way out there. It's possible.

Who else wants it?
Someone else wants $1.4 million, too, and it's up to you and me to generate the money. Why would we? Let me explain.

Our Motley Fool Global Gains newsletter is spotlighting PlayPumps, a nonprofit entity aiming to deliver clean water to people who don't have it, via merry-go-rounds for children who have few, if any, playthings. It's a win-win-win situation, and the arrangement is even more brilliant than you might suspect:

  • More than 1.1 billion people worldwide are living without clean water, and their ranks are growing rapidly. A lack of clean water is one of the world's leading causes of death.

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the problem is especially severe, with women and girls typically walking five to 10 miles per day to lug home as much as 40 pounds of water (which may well be contaminated).

  • Nearly 900 PlayPumps are already installed in Africa, serving more than a million people. Not only do these folks get safer, cleaner water, but the women end up with more time to tend to their families or work, and the children are more likely to be able to attend school.

  • Each big, four-sided water tank sports four billboards. Two contain social and public health messages (such as "Wash your hands"), while the remaining two sport traditional advertisements. These ads generate income that pays for the maintenance of the pumps. (See? I told you it was brilliant.)

Business insights
As PlayPumps demonstrates, unexpected combinations can be a powerful force behind a successful business. Instead of merely trying to raise money for traditional water pumps, PlayPumps made the appeal much more, well, appealing, by incorporating fun for children. Tacking on billboards made the proposition even more compelling.

Few of us want our lives to get much more complicated, but sometimes, combinations can be right for us. All-in-one smartphones that double as cameras and small computers are one example of a compelling combination. So are rooftop solar cells -- they not only benefit the environment and save you money, but any excess energy they generate can also be sold back to the power company, making extra money for homeowners.

Businesses might do well to look at their various offerings and ask, "How might we enhance this product or service to make it even more attractive? Is there some secondary service it can perform?"

The call to action
PlayPumps International has launched a "100 Pumps in 100 Days" campaign to bring clean water to 100 schools and communities in Africa. Our Motley Fool Global Gains team has signed on to help raise the necessary funds. (At $14,000 per pump, that comes to ... $1.4 million.) Click over to this article for many more details. Donate via that page, and you'll be entered into a drawing to win a free subscription to Motley Fool Global Gains, our newsletter devoted to finding the best international investments.* We raised more than $20,000 in just our first week!

We're not alone in this, either. The drive's sponsors include Unilever (NYSE:UL), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), Accenture (NYSE:ACN), Anheuser-Busch (NYSE:BUD), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX), and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM).

I encourage you to learn more, and see if you find yourself pumped up. If so, please join us in making a big difference in many lives.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Coca-Cola. Coke, Colgate-Palmolive, Anheuser-Busch, and Accenture are Inside Value recommendations, while Unilever and JP Morgan Chase are Income Investor picks. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.

*No purchase necessary. Sweepstakes end 6/28/07. Open to U.S. residents 18 years and older. For details on entry, including how to enter without purchase, see Official Rules. Void where prohibited.