Solar Telecommunications and Community Center

Solar Telecommunications and Community Center

Bocas Del Toro, PanamaScottsdale, United States
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

We have developed a solar-powered telecommunications system and community center comprised of a cellular repeater, light, water catchment, and computer stations that sustainably connects rural populations to the health, economic, and educational opportunity developed society offers.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural populations, like the indigenous Ngobe of Western Panama, lack phone and internet service, clean water, light, and computers. Without these basic resources, emergency medical services, a modern education, and a healthy life are not possible. Installing a new telecommunications tower costs approximately $500,000 USD. For telecommunications providers, small, dispersed communities living in rugged terrain make tower installation unfeasible.

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

Our solution is to use smaller scale telecommunications technology, like a cellular repeater, that can be easily and affordably installed in targeted locations and to power them with solar panels. This solution delivers new subscribers to telecommunications companies. At even 50% of the cost of tower construction, telecom providers can increase their subscriber base just as much and still have excess funding for the construction of five community centers (in five different communities) that provide basic resources to the local population. For a more thorough analysis please view our presentation: http://prezi.com/fd8-jo1o2ohu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy.
Impact: How does it Work

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

In Panama, for $20,000, a community of 500 indigenous Ngobe villagers received a solar-powered telecommunications system and community development center. Locals were hired to construct the center and educated about the technology being implemented. As a result, they can now make emergency medical calls to a local NGO, they have a source of clean water and electricity, light allows students to study at night and students as well as regular community members can access information on the internet for school or self-education. The ability to make a phone call allowed a local artisan group to organize over the region and sell their products at fair prices to gift shops in a local center of tourism. Sustainable energy and economics flourished.
Sustainability

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

In Latin America, really no one is addressing this issue. Inveneo (inveneo.org) does similar work in Africa primarily. However, we differ in that we offer an integrated approach that addresses multiple sustainable development issues rather than just telecommunications.
About You
Organization:
00-O Benefit Corporation
About You
About Your Project
Organization Name

00-O Benefit Corporation

Organization Country

, AZ, Scottsdale, Maricopa County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, BT, Bocas Del Toro

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Your Solution
Founding Story: Share a story about the “Aha!” moment that led you to get started and/or to see the potential for this to succeed.

My experience serving in the Peace Corps in Panama seeing telecommunications, water, and education technology issues stymie progress led me to the insights that I developed into my company.

Select Sector(s): To which of Unilever's categories of sustainability does your solution apply?

Sanitation and Hygiene, Water, Greenhouse Gases, Supply Chain Micro-entrepreneurs.

Measurable Impact
Audience: Who have you identified as your customers/recipients and why? How will you get your solution to them or engage them in your initiative?

The recipients are rural communities in Latin America. This population has the greatest need for the telecommunications and community development resources we offer and Latin America is where I have the most experience working. The solution will get to these communities by my company partnering with local organizations that know a targeted area and can identify places where implementation would be most appropriate.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date and expected impact in the future?

In Panama, for $20,000, a community of 500 indigenous Ngobe villagers received a solar-powered telecommunications system and community development center. Locals were hired to construct the center and educated about the technology being implemented. As a result, they can now make emergency medical calls to a local NGO, they have a source of clean water and electricity, light allows students to study at night and students as well as regular community members can access information on the internet for school or self-education. The ability to make a phone call allowed a local artisan group to organize over the region and sell their products at fair prices to gift shops in a local center of tourism. Sustainable energy and economics flourished.

Growth, Finance & Leadership
Scaling the Solution: How do you intend to scale your activities over the next two years (e.g., reach new markets, diversify solutions, etc.)? What will make this possible?

Over the next two years I would like to hire a construction team, ideally derived from the local populations I work with, that can efficiently construct my system in new communities. By partnering with executives in telecommunications companies working in multiple nations the solution can be spread efficiently. What will make this possible is the proof that this solution works and makes a profit for telecommunications companies by expanding their base of active subscribers.

Financial Sustainability: What is your business model to ensure financial sustainability?

Our for-profit business model reduces the cost of expanding a subscriber-base for a telecommunications company. We would essentially work as contractors for telecoms that specialize in rural development and installation. This specialized skill and the substantial savings we can offer makes our business model realistic. 40% of revenue will be invested in construction projects and 60% will be used for business expansion and development.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

While in the Peace Corps, I formed a business with about 200 indigenous artisans. We distributed their crafts to gift shops throughout the country, profiting over $15,000 in an area where the average family of eight lives on about $200 a month.

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