El Fuego del Sol GeoDevelopment Alliance, Dominican Republic and Haiti

El Fuego del Sol GeoDevelopment Alliance, Dominican Republic and Haiti

Haiti
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Fuego del Sol S.R.L. (FdS) is a Dominican Triple-Bottom-Line company dedicated to operating financially sustainably while working to improve the ecological and social environments. The business R&D process of FdS is to diligently research and compare globally available technologies to address an issue that Dominican and Haitian people see as a daily problem. FdS then gets the license to represent and promote the best product that can address that issue. Since 2006 FdS has manufactured Sun Ovens in the DR, following Fair Trade employment standards. Now, we are expanding our product line to include ecological economical building materials. We also create geotourism travel experiences to introduce conscientious travelers to our projects and the historical cultural richness of the island.
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The DR and Haiti differ in culture, history, language, ethnicity, politics, average income, etc. However, let’s focus on similarities. Both countries have wide disparities between the wealthy and impoverished. They have limited resources, but they are quick to adopt new proven technologies. However, there is a contrastingly strong dedication to the status quo. Introducing Sun Ovens is challenging: people like to cook in the way they were taught as children. Change feels like an affront against their parents’ teaching. This is addressed by using the best technology (Sun Ovens) and by enlisting the help of prominent female leaders in the communities we serve. Strong progress continues to be made. When presented with clear and direct benefit, change can happen very quickly. In the DR, propane is subsidized by the government to encourage its use in cooking and discourage deforestation. One result of this policy is that most gasoline cars are converted so they can run flex-fuel on either gasoline or propane gas. This voids the warranty, but the cost saving is huge. This modification process swept through the Dominican Republic quickly after it was introduced and proven. We anticipate a similarly quick adoption of our building materials system, once the products are introduced. Many proven ecological technologies (e.g. hydrogen based fuels, renewable power generation) that have not entered the US market due to existing infrastructures (and lobbying by status quo industries) could immediately be implemented in the DR and Haiti where initial infrastructures have yet to be built.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Innovation is intrinsic to our business model. As a TBL company, we combine the best aspects of for-profit and non-profit projects. Our employees are rewarded for their dedication through our employee ownership program. Business schools teach about social enterprise, but we are a truly inclusive, transparent, interactive SE working now. Everyone who works with us will benefit financially from the project’s success. The traditional non-profit model is dependant on donations to operate. We are financially sustainable while equally working for People, Planet and Profits (the TBLs.) Rather than creating a hybrid company (for-profit and non-profit), we are for profit and we work with existing NGOs who share our goals, thus creating a Hybrid Network (HN). We don’t compete with NGOs for precious donation dollars, we work to bring donations to our NGO partners to further their goals, enabling them to do more business with us. Triple-Win. Our HN is uniquely extensive, diverse and effective. Business schools have advised us to focus on only one product or service, but it is only though our multi-sector design that we are able to sustain profitability. One month our main income is from tourism, one month manufacturing, the next month it is providing business consulting to companies or NGOs interested in operations in the DR or Haiti. The multi-sector approach creates mutually beneficial, cross pollinating income streams for FdS, allowing us to improve the lives of everyone our work touches. We have re-written the rules. We have no competitors. We only have potential collaborators.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

El Fuego del Sol organizes and leads ecologically minded international visitors through the Dominican Republic and Haiti. GeoTourists visit our Sun Oven factory, and the community center of our Dominican NGO partner, Grupo Jaragua (GJ), where they join the GJ staff and volunteers cooking with and training others to use the Sun Oven, plus literacy training and tree planting. Along the way, visitors experience the culture, cuisine and history of the island, including the home of the son of Christopher Columbus, and the oldest avenue in the Americas. Plus we visit an amazing variety of animals from iguanas to flamingos. In a separate journey, we lead visitors through a culturally rich Fair Trade Chocolate Tour featuring another of our partners, Grupo Conocado, the cacao growers coop. FdS manufactures Sun Ovens which are featured in all of our tours and distributed by GJ through an extensive introduction and adoption process developed by FdS, GJ and local leaders of DR and Haitian community organizations. This process is detailed in our whitepaper at www.elfuegodelsol.com. In 2005, Kevn Adair completed an in depth evaluation of all available solar cooking devices and concluded that the Sun Oven is the only product that could be successfully used consistently in family kitchens. In 2010, Kevin completed a detailed two-year evaluation of ecological building materials systems to provide a safe ecological alternative to the concrete in use in the DR and Haiti. FdS is now working to introduce that product which will eventually also be manufactured locally for use on the island.
Sustainability

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The DR and Haiti differ in culture, history, language, ethnicity, politics, average income, etc. However, let’s focus on similarities. Both countries have wide disparities between the wealthy and impoverished. They have limited resources, but they are quick to adopt new proven technologies. However, there is a contrastingly strong dedication to the status quo. Introducing Sun Ovens is challenging: people like to cook in the way they were taught as children. Change feels like an affront against their parents’ teaching. This is addressed by using the best technology (Sun Ovens) and by enlisting the help of prominent female leaders in the communities we serve. Strong progress continues to be made. When presented with clear and direct benefit, change can happen very quickly. In the DR, propane is subsidized by the government to encourage its use in cooking and discourage deforestation. One result of this policy is that most gasoline cars are converted so they can run flex-fuel on either gasoline or propane gas. This voids the warranty, but the cost saving is huge. This modification process swept through the Dominican Republic quickly after it was introduced and proven. We anticipate a similarly quick adoption of our building materials system, once the products are introduced. Many proven ecological technologies (e.g. hydrogen based fuels, renewable power generation) that have not entered the US market due to existing infrastructures (and lobbying by status quo industries) could immediately be implemented in the DR and Haiti where initial infrastructures have yet to be built.
About You
Organization:
El Fuego del Sol
About You
First Name

Kevin

Last Name

Adair

About Your Organization
Organization Name

El Fuego del Sol

Organization Country

, PD

Country where this project is creating social impact

, SE

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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Innovation
What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Kevin Adair has been environmentally active, developed real estate, and created companies for 25 years. He came to the DR in 2005 to work for resorts in Punta Cana, but soon realized his calling was to work with the people and the island’s vast ecological resources. Kevin developed FdS GeoTourism EcoVillage, which hosts tourists, volunteers, and the Sun Oven factory. In 2007, FdS partnered with GJ for outreach into Haiti. FdS customizes trips anywhere on the island. It is difficult to start a DR business, but the DR and Haiti have huge developmental / market potential. FdS offers consulting services: www.dominicanconsulting.net to help others explore business opportunities.

Efforts to introduce solar cooking internationally have been hobbled by inferior technology. Solar advocates have favored cheap solar cookers under the concept that local families could not afford the more effective Sun Oven technology. However, family cooks can’t wait hours just to boil a cup of water, and cheap solar cookers can easily be destroyed in the rain. The Sun Oven is a durable solar cooking appliance with reasonable cooking times for large volumes of food. Using a Sun Oven offsets over one ton of carbon per year, and the unit can last for over 20 years. Kevin found the US NGO, Solar Household Energy (She-Inc.), and worked to create a partnership between SHE-Inc. and the GJ program. Now, US citizens can make tax deductible donations to support the DR Sun Oven distribution and adoption program, and thus offset their own carbon footprint. Everyone directly benefits from participation.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

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 formerly baked cakes in the kitchen of her church, but she needed to pay for propane plus the ingredients. Now, she coordinates cooking with 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 320 sf 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.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

The FdS product line is growing to ecologically provide complete human basic needs. We continue to add compatible products and services. The advent of our DR building materials factory will supply ecological economical safe buildings for all income levels and business sectors throughout the island. FdS will continue to incorporate recycled and indigenous natural materials whenever possible. We plan to create complete self-sufficient communities which include solar electricity, wind power, potable water, waste recycling and waste-to-energy. We will expand our work with local artists, such as www.HaitianHands.net to create as many jobs as possible, especially in the DR / Haiti border region. After more success on the island, we plan to keep expanding our alliance to transfer ideas worldwide.

Sustainability
What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

After 6 years of growing a profitable, scalable, innovative, culturally integrated, employee-ownership-based, developmental business and alliance, we find the concepts of “challenges / opportunities” more applicable than “barriers.” Circumstances, and how we address them, will determine whether the continued development of FdS happens more quickly or more slowly.

Laws in the DR discourage importation of building materials, even though there is a huge materials shortage on the island. So we must build a local factory. We have the technology, market, raw materials, potential site, business plan and projections. The issue is the timeframe for financing / international involvement.

By contrast, DR laws encourage importation of renewable energy technologies. We are certified for tax-free importation. We are open to partnerships to introduce new technologies.

We have established a true hybrid value-chain for American companies / individuals to verifiably offset their own carbon footprints and receive tax benefits by introducing quality solar cooking appliances. The program needs more publicity and participation.

FdS will always benefit from additional clients and groups for geotourism, ecotourism, philanthropic tourism, business tourism, and consulting. We provide logistics to make ideas happen in the DR and Haiti.

International competitions are becoming more broad and more frequent and are moving toward evaluating each developmental project on its own merits in order to achieve financing and support. FdS participates whenever and wherever possible in this development.

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. Collaborators include: For-profit companies: Sun Ovens International, Transcon Steel, Grupo Duarte (Legal Services and Business Development in Santo Domingo, DR), Cedano Legal Services, Elfi Wall Systems, Neptun Ultra-Efficiency Lighting, Woodgas Stoves, Architecturalhotwire.com, rebuildhaitibetter.ning.com and Dias-y-Nueve Grado Estudio Sostenible (Sustainable Architectural Design Studio); Non-profit / COOP organizations: Grupo Jaragua, Grupo CONACADO, SHE-Inc. Solar Household Energy, Global Exchange, Equal Exchange, WBEZ – Chicago Public Radio, Solar Cookers International, the William J. Clinton Foundation, The Technological University of Santo Domingo (INTEC), University of San Francisco, Faith in Place, Rise International, Bethel UCC Elmhurst, IL, The Union Church of Santo Domingo, The Zakat Foundation of America, The Natura Park Ecological Foundation, The Annual Higuey Book Fair and The Rotary Club of Higuey, DR; Government agencies: the Center for Export and Investment – DR, ProIndustrial, Dominican Customs Service, National Energy Center, The US Embassy Commercial Services Division, American Citizens Services Division of the US Consulate, Haiti government through the Building Back Better Communities program and the Green Technologies Expo.

Explain your selections

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 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. We prefer to form exclusive licensing agreements for our geographic region for the products that we represent, manufacture, sell, distribute and promote. This method increases employment opportunities in the US, the DR and Haiti. Since the products tend to be licensed from US companies, we create jobs in all three countries. Our model is not to outsource jobs from larger countries, rather to import tested ecological technologies to produce products locally that are used locally. This process becomes a tandem manufacturing and implementation process with the associated company in the US. Thus, US customers buy US manufactured goods, and customers geographically closer to our location, buy the licensed products from FdS. We follow Fair Trade manufacturing standards and we encourage all of our suppliers to follow them as well. We are participating in the regional and national Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Program of the US and DR governments. We are certified as a tax-free importer of renewable energy products under the DR 57-07 law. NGOs are our customers, so are individual consumers and beneficial geotourists.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

By channeling the multi-sector economic developmental engines of: innovative technologies, art, geotourism, hybrid networks and an available trainable labor force, FdS carefully expands the products and services we offer. Each additional offering is carefully evaluated to ensure proper implementation and that it is a complementary fit with our other offerings. We are expanding our corporate integrated growth pattern to eventually assist the DR and Haiti to take a global leadership role in ecological preservation and alternative energy use / production. Before ebay, the internet model was focused on offering one type of product or service per website. However the ebay model shows that multiple-sector, interconnected market development can succeed when following proven successful principals. So other companies then expanded their product lines based on the ebay model. FdS emulates ebay as we strive to be an access platform to a new market. FdS works to facilitate multiple socio/eco industries and businesses to encourage growth that is conscious of the cultural norms and the individual strengths of some of the most impoverished citizens. We anticipate that our strength will continue to grow as we serve more clients and gain more international attention. The DR government is extremely pro-business and pro-environment, and we are working to put those policies toward serious business development. The new Haitian government is encouraging business development as well. The DR and Haiti provide a unique starting point for a developmental movement that can eventually span the globe.

Challenges
Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.

PRIMARY

Lack of visibility and investment

SECONDARY

Underemployment

TERTIARY

Lack of access to information and networks

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

We are moving our Sun Oven factory to the DR/Haitian border, which has dramatic underemployment. It is also where we have had dependable adoption of the Sun Ovens. We will be expanding into an Ecological Arts Center where we engage multi-sector production. Our staff will make a wide variety of products including: handmade beads (HaitianHands.net), small solar-cell arrays, ceramic water filters, drip-irrigation systems from reusing plastic soda/water bottles and bicycle-carts from donated parts. The region has waste-mountains of discarded donated clothing. We will use these clothes to make a traditional Dominican rug, popular with tourists. We will offer evening classes in English and computers and create clients by paying our employees sufficiently that they can buy the products we make.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.

PRIMARY

Leveraged technology

SECONDARY

Enhanced existing impact through addition of complementary services

TERTIARY

Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

The move to the border will allow us to expand our activities and our visibility. This location allows for Haitians to walk across the border and work with us on a daily basis. We will be making opportunities for citizens of both countries, working together. When security allows, we will be expanding into additional locations in Haiti. The proposed site for our ecological building materials factory is also in the border region. We are immediately ready to start building materials production when financing is achieved. We are currently under review for financing from private companies and USAID. As we continue on our successful journey, we have two potential paths: 1) Continual, gradual, boot-strap growth, or 2) Expanded growth through international development financing / partnerships.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Government, Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Interconnectivity is crucial for the success of the FdS business model. Neither traditional companies nor NGOs have specific incentives to dynamically collaborate. Traditional business is allegiant to the profit bottom line; NGOs are dependent on pleasing their donors in the pursuit of their benevolent goals. As an independent secular TBL (people, planet and profit) company, FdS engages market forces to reach out to all developmental entities in our region to develop synergistic partnerships whenever possible. (Our traveling clients demand information and collective action.) FdS seeks to work with any entity of any affiliation toward the mutual goals of improving society and the environment. We respect all backgrounds/traditions in our quest to find common ground and move forward together.