Sirona has worked for years on developing sustainable businesses in Haiti based upon alternative energy. The goal has always been to move from charity to self-sustaining programs that are Haitian-run enterprises. We have successfully worked in both biofuel and solar, and now we are turning our experience into opportunity for small scale entrepreneurs in Leogane, Haiti.
Lack of access to energy is the key barrier for small businesses in Haiti. Last year Wagan Tech donated to Sirona Cares Foundation solar cubes for Haiti. These cubes are a portable, solar-based power supply that can run any type of appliance, the time they run depends of course upon power consumption. Sirona is using the solar cube as a prize for first place in Sustainable Business Plan competitions, the first is beginning now in Leogane, Haiti. Last week we delivered the cube, and the buzz at the NEGES Foundation was that of excitement.
Haitians are, by nature, hard working entrepreneurs. Given the scantest of resources Haitian people are able to bring economic value to their lives, and this type of competition is intended to be the hand up that a would-be business owner needs to thrive. The excitement over having power that is not reliant upon diesel or government electricity spurred many ideas spontaneously: the ability to put air into tires on the road (this man loses at least 10 potential customers every time he runs out of fuel and leaves to buy more); the ability to run a small theater in a home; the ability to keep drinks cool. The business ideas were far beyond simply charging phones, and they kept coming the entire time we were there.
The contest will open soon and the top twenty plans will be accepted for review. Each plan must outline the business plan as well as the intention to set aside funds for equipment repair and battery replacement over time. We will post the top business ideas here as well as track the winner as he/she starts a new venture with sustainable energy thanks to the NEGES Foundation, Sirona and Wagan Tech.