What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?
When we began the project in 2005 we were amazed at the lack of development services and financing options available for ecological and social developmental projects in the DR / Haiti. So, we developed methods to maintain and grow our program related income so our project has been profitable for the past three years. We see two possible future paths: Either we will continue to be solely self sustaining gradually adding partners as we go, or we will find one or more major developmental partners who recognize the dramatic potential benefit of working together with the project we have started. Our program is immediately ready to scale up and assist in the DR and Haiti becoming energy independent. Once these small countries prove it possible, the US will feel greater pressure to follow suit.
How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?
More and more local residents will have video recording / video streaming functions on their own devices. Our Media Center will help the residents access more of the capabilities that their devices offer. We will provide editing / upload services, and community based contests and screenings which encourage residents of all ages toward digital representation. We will expand our video conferencing accessibility to give local students a greater scope of the benefits of ecological development including reforestation, solar cooking and other renewable fuels.
Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?
All the connections that we have made through our Sun Oven and GeoTourism corporate development, including all of our partnerships and government connections, are exactly the contacts that we will need for each compatible product and service that we add to our company's offerings.
FdS projects are diligently documented with the goal of replication and scalability, e.g., our Whitepaper at elFuegodelSol.com. Our factory has produced 400 Sun Ovens and nearly 200 of them have been distributed. Our top solar chef is Olga who is a community leader and a baker in Oviedo. Olga used to bake cakes in the kitchen of her church, but she needed to pay for propane plus the ingredients. Now, she coordinates cooking in the Sun Ovens at the GJ Community Center at noon, and uses the Sun Ovens in the afternoons to bake cakes to sell for her business. Olga is now on staff and travels to train leaders in other communities. Olga is featured in the first video.
Our building materials business is detailed at changemakers.com/node/99579. For our design of an efficient basic housing unit, we have included the designs and suggestions of local Dominicans and Haitians for a small comfortable home. Our design can be implemented in an initial temporary configuration in a camp setting (with separate camp-kitchens, latrines and showers) then each of our 320sf homes can temporarily house two families. When space and finances allow, additional homes can be provided and the existing 320 sf homes can be converted for permanent use for one family. Or the home can be relocated for permanent installation. The same unit can be assembled into single homes, duplexes, quads, or multi-story buildings up to 4 stories high. The Sun Oven program success will be replicated in the comfortable homes we will build. The success of our GeoTourism program is detailed at changemakers.com/node/95278.
The skills and contacts we have gathered also help us greatly in the consulting services we offer other companies and individuals. Through our multi-sector approach we have achieved, sustained and grown profitability. All indications are that this growth and traction will continue.
sites.google.com has been a huge benefit in the media development and promotion of the project. We will continue to share the skills we have learned of website development and video production and all the other aspects of the world of media with everyone who is involved in the project. There is no failure, only growth.
Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding
FdS was started with conscientious funding from family and friends. Our network of supporting individuals has continued to grow with visits, investments, donations, volunteering, advice and economic and educational participation opportunities. Foundations have provided us insight, networking opportunities and have been our clients for consulting work in the DR and Haiti. NGOs have partnered with us on all our major projects, from Sun Ovens, to GeoToursism, to project promotion. Since the products and services we offer tend to be licensed from US companies, we create jobs in the US, the DR and Haiti. Our model is not to outsource jobs from larger countries, rather to import tested ecological technologies to produce products locally that are used locally. We continue to grow sustainably.
Tell us about your partnerships
FdS collaborates with non-profits, corporations, government agencies, educational institutions, artists, innovators and activists toward improving the environment and society. A true Hybrid Network, we form close working relationships with for-profits and non-profits to work together to improve ecological and social environments. We partner with Conacado, the DR Cacao growers coop, to present the Fair Trade Chocolate Lovers tour. Our complete partners list is in our Partnering for Excellence entry. We are interested in expanding our Ashoka connection.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?
Frantz FanFan, Dominican Resident of Haitian decent is our General Manager. He is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English and is an employee owner of FdS because he's been a leader in the program from the start. Frida Hypolite, Dominican Citizen of Haitian decent is our Youth and Young Adult Coordinator and fluent in Creole, Spanish and English. Ernst Rupp is the Project Coordinator for GJ and working with us for Gold Standard Certification. Olga Vidal is our Head Solar Chef and Solar Trainer. Extensive support staff and volunteers are on board.
Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply
Investment, Human resources or talent, Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.
Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply
Marketing or media, Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list
We are specifically interested in an Ashoka Fellowship. We have participated in Changemakers competitions since 2006. We have joined every GeoTourism Challenge, and every competition that was germane to our projects. We greatly enjoyed our participation in the GeoTourism Summit in Washington, DC in 2010. Our work is based on incorporating every innovative concept that can potentially bring ecological and/or social development to the DR and/or Haiti. All of our ideas are designed to be replicable and scalable. We would like to play a strong role in the development of the Change Shop platform. We hope you will consider Kevin Adair and El Fuego del Sol for an Ashoka Fellowship. After 6 years of dedication to making a positive impact, it would be wonderful to achieve an Ashoka Fellowship.