What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
The primary barrier to growth or transfer of technology is a lack of start up capital. Organizations like Changemakers can overcome the capital formation barrier by providing funding to transfer the technology to other prospective project sites. CTI volunteers have identified a very suitable site in Morogoro, Tanzania. The Tanzania site has the following critical elements: a cluster group of “tinsmiths” (metal fabricators that make a fuel efficient, charcoal burning stove), “smallholder” rice farmers that produce sufficient rice to provide rice hulls, and available volunteers that could help with the transfer of technology and set up of a production facility to produce cooking fuel. The tinsmiths, with guidance, have the capacity to manufacture the needed equipment. The cluster of rice growers are looking for a beneficial use for rice hulls that result from rice milling. The entire area is looking for an alternative to charcoal, a fuel source that requires deforestation. And job creation is needed to lift the local economy.
A prospective facility would also include process and equipment improvements that are currently being prepared by the Michigan Tech University, Department of Engineering. A Changemaker prize could be used to facilitate the transfer of a proven technology to a second site or geographic region.
Tell us about your partnerships
The current partnership is an informal one between CTI volunteer Steve Laible and volunteer Ed Scott who spends considerable time in Bangladesh. The current arrangement is based on friendship, trust and a commitment to serving people who live at the margin of the world’s economic systems. An emerging partnership, also informal, is with Michigan Tech University and its Engineering Department. Faculty advisors and engineering students at Michigan Tech University have “adopted” the cooking fuel from rice hulls project as one they are trying to improve. Technical improvements in the area of energy transfer, consistency of processing and control of heat and power drive are expected in future months as a result of research work being done at Michigan Tech University.
Explain your selections
Compatible Technology International is a relatively small organization structured with a core paid staff that is supplemented by many volunteers. CTI has been in existence for 30 years. The volunteers have relationships with friends and family who provide support dollars for various projects. Some technology items, primarily hand-operated grinders, are sold to customers. As work in developing countries has progressed, CTI has been able to gain some support from Foundations, NGOs and corporations.
How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?
The cooking fuel from rice hulls project will likely continue to develop in small steps. Any accelerated growth in operation is completely dependent on receiving sponsorship funding from donors or other interested parties. The current project site is deemed sustainable. Any further expansion or transfer of technology is totally dependent on an external source providing the needed capital investment.