When EarthSpark brought the first grid electricity to Les Anglais, Haiti, Jean-Jean was afraid he wouldn't be able to afford the $30 connection fee. For years, he had used kerosene lamps to light the small blue house where he lives with his three children, an 8-year-old girl and two boys ages 5 and 13. But he was determined to be in the first group of full-fledged EKo Pwòp customers. “I will get the money before the deadline,” he told a community organizer. “And you’ll see, I’ll be your best customer.”
EKo Pwòp, which stands for Elektrisite Kominote Pwòp (“clean community electricity” in Haitian Creole), is EarthSpark’s micro-utility in Les Anglais and currently serves 54 customers — including Jean-Jean, who found the money for the connection fee and has put away his smoky lamps. This summer, our team has been hard at work helping the Les Anglais community to prepare for EKo Pwòp’s expansion to a larger solar-powered microgrid that will serve over 400 homes and small businesses.
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From holding community meetings to numbering nearly 500 homes and businesses with their first-ever street addresses, EarthSpark staff and local partners are ensuring that future customers understand the different levels of service and the myriad ways in which their lives will change with access to reliable, affordable electricity. Community members like Rosane Jean-Jacques and Juline Joint are conducting surveys to find out exactly how residents currently light their homes and determine the best ways to help them transition to life “on the grid.”
We are well on our way to a successful expansion, but we need your help to make it a reality. Today, July 16, is a perfect time to support us as it is GlobalGiving’s Partner Rewards Bonus Day. As a GlobalGiving Leader, we are eligible for 40% in matching funds for all donations made online through GlobalGiving today (up to $1000, from 9 am until 11:59 pm). Do you know someone who would be interested in this story? Please share this post with your friends and family. Thank you, as always, for your partnership as we look forward to lighting Jean-Jean’s home and all of Les Anglais with clean and affordable solar electricity!
Noe lost almost everything in 2012, when he was evicted from his home and forced to move to a remote town outside of Port-au-Prince. But when he began working as a Creole-English translator for a filmmaker friend, he started down the path that would eventually lead him to Enèji Pwòp.
His friend introduced him to the Enèji Pwòp team in early 2013, and he began working as a Retailer in March 2013. He has built a strong network of customers and enjoys the ability to buy and sell on credit, which he says gives more people access to Enèji Pwòp products and allows him to sell more. He now has a new home back in Port-au-Prince.
"Enèji Pwòp allows me to light my home," said Noe, who uses the Enèji Pwòp "TiPowa" product for light and to charge his cell phone. "I had to restart everything. Enèji Pwòp gave me the opportunity to make a new home."
Noe's story is just one example of how Enèji Pwòp Retailers are able to improve their lives through their work, and we are proud to provide unique opportunities to our network of over 100 Retailers. To that end, we are excited to announce the official launch of our Enèji Pwòp Retailer Training Program, which will help Retailers improve their sales and increase their impact. You can read about our first two trainings on the EarthSpark blog.
Developed in partnership with behavioral change firm 17 Triggers, the program certifies our Retailers in the use of innovative new sales and marketing materials like the Site Seller, a one-on-one tool illustrating basic energy literacy concepts. The Site Seller allows Retailers to educate their customers while promoting the benefits of Enèji Pwòp products. (Check it out here!) We have trained 40 Retailers since March and are busy preparing for our next training sessions in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel.
Your participation is what makes unique programs like our Retailer Certification possible, and we are grateful for your continued support as we work to train our entire network and expand clean energy entrepreneurship throughout the country. We love to hear from you — please leave a comment and let us know you're following our progress!
The end of 2013 was an exciting time for the EarthSpark team, and we have ambitious plans for 2014.
In December, USAID announced EarthSpark a winner of Powering Agriculture: an Energy Grand Challenge for Development. This grant will help us expand our current microgrid in Les Anglais from 54 to 500 customers during the summer of 2014. The grid will expand into a full town-sized solarized smart grid, expanding use of SparkMeter smart metering technology to offer affordable pre-pay energy services.
We will also use this funding to explore and promote clean energy technologies to process agricultural goods in the area. Not only will this help current agribusiness entrepreneurs upgrade their equipment from dirty, diesel-powered machinery to machinery powered electrically by the EarthSpark Les Anglais solar hybrid microgrid, but it will open up new possibilities for agricultural processing in the area. When electricity is brought to an area, opportunities for agricultural processing increase, unlocking agricultural wealth in an area where nutritious foods would often rot for want of processing.
On the clean energy retail side, we have been busy expanding and improving our network of Retailers and wholesale Agents. We will soon be rolling out our 17 Triggers marketing materials with a series of Retailer trainings in 10 cities around Haiti by the end of 2014. Each Retailer will receive an innovative toolkit of sales and marketing materials geared towards increasing sales and educating customers to increase energy literacy. With this kit, we hope to train 260 new and current Retailers and expand the Enèji Pwòp brand into 3 more Departments in Haiti.
We’ve been working hard over the past few months to increase energy access in Haiti through innovative and sustainable solutions. To get a picture of what we’re up against, have a look at this video highlighting the disparities in access to energy services over the years in the region. (Hint: watch Haiti.) Our work is to change the trend of low energy access.
Thank you for your continuing support as we enter into this new year with ambitious plans. We couldn’t do what we do without you!
Since we last wrote, we have been busy expanding the Enèji Pwòp retailer network, building better business tools, and expanding our first microgrid!
The network now has 102 retailers across the country, and we partnered with amazing marketing specialists 17 Triggers to develop comprehensive training and marketing materials that our team will be using in the coming months to train new entrepreneurs and better support our current network.
Sales to date have grossed over $125,392 since 2010, growing exponentially from $6,943 in 2010 to $65,442 to date in 2013. Enèji Pwòp retailers have sold over 7,158 products, benefiting nearly 35,000 Haitian people. 3,141 products have been sold in 2013 as of September 1st, illustrating Enèji Pwòp’s dramatic sustained growth. Enèji Pwòp solar lighting products directly replace kerosene, candles and charcoal, resulting in household savings of over $5 per month.
Alongside our retail work, we have expanded our first microgrid from 14 to 56 customers, and we will be able to report some additional exciting news on that front soon. (hint: solar energy!)
Thank you for making all of this work possible. We couldn't do it without your support.
Over the past quarter EarthSpark International has made exciting progress in two of our major initiatives to eradicate energy poverty in Haiti. Our clean energy retail initiative, Enji Pwòp, continues to grow. During the past three months almost 1,700 clean energy products, such as solar lamps, energy efficient stoves and solar home systems were purchased making the quarter Enji Pwòp’s most successful to date. These products will assist thousands of families and businesses by providing safe and healthy light sources and save money by eliminating the need to purchase kerosene. Enji Pwòp’s growing network of local clean energy entrepreneurs stands at 60 active entrepreneurs and now spans across most of Haiti. In this way, Enji Pwòp is helping local entrepreneurs expand their businesses and deliver clean energy to their communities. Enji Pwòp also refined its e-commerce site, www.enejipwop.com, for members of the Diaspora community to purchase clean energy products for their friends and family in Haiti.
EarthSpark’s other major initiative, the Les Anglais micro-grid, is about to complete its Phase II stage which will provide pole and wire electricity service to 50 households. EarthSpark’s micro-grid service, called EKo Pwòp (short for “Clean Community Electricity” in Haitian Creole) allows customers or their families to pre-pay for electricity service, similar to how they pay for their cell phone service. The electricity provided by the micro-grid will help Les Anglais residents, such as Kris Jean Charles do his homework into the evening and local entrepreneur Gardy to keep his hardware store open later. On August 15th Phase II will go online and EarthSpark plans to celebrate this milestone with the rest of the Les Anglais community during their annual patron saint festival. Phase III of the project will expand the micro-grid to all of downtown, ~400 households, and is planned to be completed by the summer of 2014. The expansion will also include an upgrade to solar energy, ensuring long-term sustainability of the grid operations. Beyond Les Anglais, EarthSpark is working in conjunction with local organizations and the Haitian government to plan solar-powered ‘smart’ microgrids in other small towns in the region.
We at EarthSpark would like to offer a tremendous “Thank You!” to all of our supporters. Without your contributions none of this would be possible and thousands of Haitians would be without dependable access to clean, efficient electricity that we help to provide.
EarthSpark is always looking for ways to get more people involved in their work and increasing energy access in Haiti. What do you think are the best ways to engage people interested in the issues of sustainable development and energy access?
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