Let There Be Light!
In a country where just 1 in 7 citizens have access to electricity, Sirona Cares and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) plan on bringing light and small business opportunities to rural Haiti. Generous donations of time, money and resources by IEEE members societies, IEEE Foundation, Nextek Power Systems, Russell Engineering and private donors has allowed the team to develop and soon deploy solar trailers that will produce 1 kW of electricity each…enough to charge 40 home battery kits daily, bringing electricity to homes and facilities that desperately need this simple utility. The organizing IEEE group is called the Community Solutions Initiative (communitysolutionsinitiative.org) in which Nextek has several key members including CEO Paul Savage, VP of Engineering Wayne Gutschow and Liang Downey, Director. The Sirona business plan is to establish sustainable local businesses, not charity. These simple trailers are easy to deploy and maintain. The product (electricity) is desperately needed within the community and the businesses will be locally owned franchises to provide affordable solutions to the community, as well as create accountability and dignity for business owners. The initial pilot program will deploy 6 units this spring, followed by the full pilot program which will deploy a total of 15 units. Ultimately the full scale plan will be to deploy electricity to at least 1,000,000 people (1/10th of the entire population of the country) over the first five years of operation.
While the Pilot program depends on donated seed funding, a Haitian corporation, Sirona-Haiti, has been established to oversee the pilot operation while raising an estimated $38M in venture capital to establish in-country manufacturing. This will provide another source of jobs and income for local Haitians while fueling rapid growth in which all profits are reinvested in-country. Nextek, along with Russell Engineering who designed the trailer, under Wayne Gutschow has served as the electrical system designer and integrator for the entire enterprise; its amazing volunteer team deserves great credit for the impressive success to date.