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.