Three elements are required to have an impact in development work. The program must be sustainable, replicable and scalable. Over time Sirona is proving that our Ti Soley Program is sustainable both environmentally and economically. When 100 homes pay for electricity access from our solar systems the cost per home is low enough for homes to improve their economics by paying less for energy than they had paid for inferior sources of energy (kerosene, batteries, cell phone charging, candles, etc.). Also, when 100 homes are paying a small fee each month the capital cost of the station is paid off in under five years with a return that is acceptable to impact investors. By creating local businesses we are we are improving both household and village economics. We are keeping the money that flows into the kerosene market circulating in impoverished communities instead.
Next, our program is replicable. We have replicated our success throughout Haiti and we are currently engaged in a small program in Ghana as well as looking at opportunities in Kenya and Uganda. The program can be replicated in any impoverished off-grid community where the current median cost of household energy is at least $10 per month. In Haiti the median cost that homes are currently paying is $10.50 and rising due to local inflation.
Finally, impact requires scalability. In the past week we deployed electricity access for 600 homes in four days. With a pickup and a team of two, two stations can be deployed in a day. If the household size is 5 people per home, we reach 1,000 people per day. The program can scale as rapidly as financing is available and its impact is instant.
We are proving, by delivering 1.5 tons of equipment to a tiny island in Haiti, and to its mountaintops, that our program can be deployed anywhere that energy poverty persists. We will continue to demonstrate the positive impacts of our work and look forward to expanding throughout and beyond Haiti in the coming year.
The recent deployment was part of the UN Environmental Program’s Cote de Sud Initiative funded by the Government of Norway. The opportunity to work with this consortium has been a privilege.
It takes money to establish programs in developing countries, but they won’t thrive if local people are not engaged and trained to succeed. Sadly much money is lost on projects that don’t capitalize on building local capacity.
From the beginning Sirona has designed our programs with local partners. We didn’t just ask if they liked the programs, we worked with them to create and customize the business plans. As we replicate our program in new countries we work with the local partners to determine what customizations their communities will need for the program to succeed. Our programs work because of that input. In addition, the equipment we use is streamlined and specifically designed for local technicians to be able to understand and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. The Ti Soley kits are designed to be simple, durable and reliable.
Our manufacturing partners, Day and Night Solar and Wagan Tech have been invaluable to us. This past week we deployed our first six Day and Night SC1500 systems and 600 new Ti Soley kits. Five of
the six solar stations can tie into the Haitian grid, and one was a solar stand-alone system. Day and Night Solar sent a technician to train our local
technicians. There is a craving in Haiti and other developing countries for this type of training. The technicians can now communicate any issue with Day and Night Solar, and because the equipment is warranted solutions will be found for anything that goes wrong in the future.
Within a week of the gavel pounding at the Paris Climate Accord Sirona deployed six new stations to supply clean, affordable electricity to 600 more homes in Haiti. We have been working towards this deployment for six months with goods delayed in customs for most of that period. Today though 600 homes now have access to electricity.
In addition to bringing an electricity solution our program created six new small business that provide recharging of battery kits called “Ti Soley” (“Little Sun” in creole) kits. These businesses collect a rental fee each month that is less than the prices households already pay for kerosene. This means that the environment is improved by lowering kerosene consumption in rural Haiti and village economics are improved by keeping the money that would have gone to the kerosene market in their local economy.
In Paris on December 12th delegates from 195 countries committed to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and the following week in rural Haiti a small step was taken towards that goal.
It was an honor to be the guest speaker at the Women in NECA Round Table at the annual NECA convention in San Francisco. NECA, the National Electrical Contractor’s Association was a well attended conference where Sirona’s manufacturing partner Day and Night Solar displayed their range of solar products. The conference proved to be a great way to connect with others in the electrical industry.
An article following the event was run in US Builder’s Review and can be found at: http://www.usbuildersreview.com/blog/annual-women-neca-round-table-connects-leading-ladies-san-francisco
Since January of 2009 I have been making trips to Haiti. We have accomplished a great deal lighting homes and creating a biofuel program, but its only a drop in a bucket. You can look either at accomplishments, or need, and feel encouraged or depressed. Today I’m cleaning out my home office and ran across a bundle of notes from a trip in 2011. I wrote this then, and felt encouraged after reading it today. If you haven’t been to Haiti you really can’t imagine what it is like from what you hear on the news. I think I wrote this years ago to share, and I’m glad I found it today:
Smiling, laughing, kisses on cheeks, beautiful children with ribbons in braids;
School uniforms. Boys and girls walk linked, arm in arm, to school.
Makeshift kites and balls entertain, chalkboard slates educate.
Workers scurry from place to place. Those without jobs make them.
A helping hand is always there.
Your truck won’t stay stuck in the mud for long – the village comes to help.
Curious stares from expressionless faces ignite into dazzling smiles with a simple “hello”.
Beautiful beaches, water in countless shades of blue.
Mountains rise one after another covered with rocks and infant trees.
Optimism, determination, boundless creativity and ingenuity define the Haitian way.
Can-do, will-do: their attitude.
Not blind to the poverty, the creases placed on faces through countless hardships;
the red hair of malnutrition.
Waste, garbage, open sewers, sickness.
Broken dreams, debris, rusted equipment.
Sugarcane fields lying in waste due to cheaper overseas sugar.
Rice – the same.
I see these things, all of them, but to me they are not the image of Haiti.
This is the current condition, but I see too much to believe it will last.
Haiti is not hopeless. Haitians are not hopeless.
The reflection of “Haiti” is in the smiles of her people.
I am privileged and honored to work in such a place, and her optimism is contagious. I am not hopeless.
It is my responsibility to tell the world, whatever you’ve heard before, consider this: there is much more to the story.