Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact
By substituting the use of pollutant, hazardous and expensive sources of lighting for a clean, more efficient and better quality technology you are causing a great social impact.
First, healthwise, hazardous fumes are not emmitted within the household preventing the risk of respiratory problems.
You also increase the security of the household because if a kerosene lamp is tipped over it can cause a fire, the solar system has no risk of any kind.
Environmentally you are replacing a very contaminant fuel with a clean technology, therefore each installation is a very small grain of sand towards alleviating global warming. (10 W systems replace around 0.20 Ton CO2 emmitted each year by kerosene burning)
Econmicaly, you are replacing spenditures on other expensive sources that represent about 15-25 % of their earnings. With this, once the system is paid, you create a larger purchasing power for them to embark on new projects and improve their living conditions.
Our scheme also seeks to promote social development: Most of the social programs in Mexico are donation based and dont incentivate community members to become agents of change or be part of their development. By changing this scheme we are promoting a sense of responsibility and involvement within the community members, showing them that their efforts are rewarded with benefits for them and their surroundings, and we also motivate them to be involved in the change in their community, this way you incentivate them to come up with new ideas and get involved and realize that the more they get involved in their change, the more benefits they receive, thefore you break the paradigm that they should be sitting around waiting for somebody to help them.
On the other hand, we are motivating people from universities in the cities to get involved in helping their fellow countrymen that did not receive the same opportunities that they did. We are seeking to plant a seed in every one of our volunteers to become social entrepreneurs and to dedicate their efforts to create sustainable businesses that have a social aspect and can benefit both their personal economy and their society.
There are a series of projects in India and Africa of similar characterist
Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing
The main problems we are adressing are the lack of electrification and the way government deals with its social programs.
Around 8 million people in Mexico (even though the official number is 3 million) are lacking of access to electricity and must use other sources of lighting such as equipment with batteries toghether with kerosene and gas lamps which are expensive, hazardous and pollutant. Studies indicate that from 15-25% of a families income is spent in these sources of lighting, this spending is going to be replaced with our system and with the saving the families can pay the credit they receive.
We also seek to address a more pressing social problem which is rural develpment. Through the installation of our solar systems, we wish to demonstrate and help individuals living in these communities that the light we are giving them is useful for them to extend their days, change their activities and allow themselves to perform other tasks that can be beneficial for them. Through our student volunteer teams, we wish to create new projects based on community needs and give the economic resources for these projects through a community revolving fund: this fund works because once we purchase the lanterns that we manufacture with donations, the credits that people are paying go into these funds and students with community members can propose their poject and have access to the funds to develop new projects. We also wish to connect products that these people make with stores in the cities where we can eliminate intermediaries that usually abuse the producers in rural areas and pay them a better price for their work.
Another problem we address is climate change because kerosene and other lighting sources are extremely pollutant. We estimate that each 10W system will replace around 0.2 tons of CO2 per year: A small number if viewed individually, but as the project grows the impact grows and it demonstrates that private initiatives are also important in this issue.
Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. Include a description of the business model. What might prevent that success?
We have entered various competitions and business accelerators. We are currently in a 10 week programme where we are geting legal and financial advisory and are getting moderate funding to kick of the project correctly. We are also finishing another competition called the Cleantech Challenge where we received various advisories with experts in the field of green business.
We have also been just accepted to the "Avancemos" project with Ashoka that will be of great use in the network with other NGO's and community work.
We are constantly updating our technical specifications and working on optimization of our system and looking for new technologies to apply in the communities we work in. We are currently performing various social and economical viability studies in different communities to start the implantation of our system and schemes.
Our business model is divided in three different stages that are best described in the next question. However the general model includes a study in the community, the introduction of the technology with a community leader, and obtaining valuous contributions from or "embassadors" of each zone or region which is usually an NGO interested in distributing our systems and implanting our scheme. Then the microfinance entity issues a loan to the individual (or particularly the group of individuals that sign a collective contract) receiving the system. We continue to give follow up and social help to the communities we work in and assure that the program is sustainable in three aspects: Social, economical and environmental.
This success can be prevented or can be staggered by the lack of cultural sensibility when wanting to introduce a new technology to rural communities where customs are a very important part of daily life and it is difficult to change their mind frame. We are prepared for this with different manuals and strategies to make the project not a technological imposition, but a program where the individuals realize the uses they can give to the artificial light. Another issue can be the lack of trustworthy alliances with NGOs and or the microfinancing entities.
Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible
Our first phase of the project has already started and we hope to conclude at the end of this year. This phase is the implementation of the pilot projects and adaptation and perfecting of the project. We will be working in 5 different communities in different states, installing between 50 and 100 systems and documenting our results and progress to be able to have a more solid presentation of the project. In parallel, we are creating a network of "embassadors" which we will launch in the beginning of next year where we will perform our project through these channels and start to incursion in other markets such as the urban poverty belts around the big cities, a problem very common in Mexico. After a year or working directly or indirectly with these projects we wish to enter fully with government initiatives and look for alliances or embassadors in central america, so at the beginning of year three we expect to have a big client base and distribution network where we will be doing installations continuously and beneffiting the most amount of people possible.
If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?
We seek to influence, as we mentioned before, the way government programs in Mexico are seen. We seek to show how our scheme is more sustainable and in the long run promotes development in a more integral way than social programs that just give without expecting any compromise by the receiver. We wish to participate, and have currently contacted most government entities in different sectors and prove that any project should consider an integral scheme where you promote community involvement and social programs that of course can be subsidized by the government, but that are also sustainable in a social and economical way. Socially you promote development in a more significant manner and economically with the credits and return on the investment you make in the communities each new year the government has to invest less money for the same amount of projects or systems. It is our vision for us to transform the way government policies are oriented towards social programs in a more integral, development-oriented and socially sustainable manner.