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Mayan Power and Light

by Appropriate Technology Collaborative
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Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
Mayan Power and Light
A photo sent from Sandra, Chitas School Principal
A photo sent from Sandra, Chitas School Principal

We were blown away by your show of support during #ClimateAction week. Over 115 people from the US and Europe chipped in over $11,300 to bring clean water and light to Guatemalan families affected by the pandemic. You helped us meet our goals and serve more people suffering under the COVID19 quarantine. 

Overall in Guatemala 54% of the population live in poverty; in la Zona Reina, the poverty rate is at 75%. Thousands of people live day-to-day, but are out of work for over 2 months now. Stress is rising and UNICEF is warning of the rise of domestic violence. Living in isolated villages, kids in la Zona Reina rely on school as the only building with lights, cell phone charging and computers. With school closed, they spend long days and nights at home in the dark. Now the school principals of Chitas and Tiritibol are working with us to help their students cope with the added isolation.

Your generosity helped us serve 319 children last week with basic lighting to read and feel safe while school is closed. Their parents save precious funds on candles for food,and can be more productive at night. 

It wasn´t easy.  With the whole of Guatemala on lock down, our field staff can´t travel out to the poorest communities who need help. Luckily, our past collaborative projects with local community leaders developed mutual trust, transparency and a culture of cooperation to take action during this situation. 

Two school principals in the un-electrified interior of Guatemala have shown exemplary community leadership since we worked together to install solar panels, lights and a computer lab at their schools.  We organized the distribution of solar lamps to 319 primary school children by matching school enrollment lists with signed documents and using shipping services to send documentation and solar lights back and forth. When we can move around the country again, our field staff will visit Tiritibol and Chitas to interview parents and children for monitoring and evaluation purposes. We´ll update you with that information when the time comes. 

Thanks to your recent donations, over 125 water filters are now on their way to Guatemala for distribution in May to help poor families stay healthy, save money and save the environment.

Stay tuned for more updates about our response to the pandemic.

No school means no light, until solar lamps arrive
No school means no light, until solar lamps arrive
The first night with lights
The first night with lights
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Ricardo and the computer teacher installing panels
Ricardo and the computer teacher installing panels

Thanks to your generous donations in 2019, Mayan Power and Light is taking off to a whole new level.  Check out our attached 2019 Annual Report for details on how we strengthened our organization, our programs, and our community partnerships.

This January, MPL installed solar power on two schools for at-risk kids in Guatemala.

On January 4th, solar volunteers worked with The Street School Staff and Mayan Power and Light solar technicians to install 600 watts of solar power on The Street School's Children's Home, where 22 at-risk or orphaned children are supported by social workers and psychologists to go to school and get back on track.  With over 8 power outages per month, children and staff members were left in the dark - unable to do homework and staff members struggling to keep everyone safe.  Emergency back-up solar lighting maintains children's security and safety, keeping the space bright and stable as a Children's Home should be. 

By Jan 21, 2020 we installed a Solar Power Lights & Computer Lab  at Montemaria's community run Institute for Education - an impressive community effort to create secondary educational options for isolated rural children. The institute serves 75 students with 13 teachers and 1,200 associated community members. Before the project, they had 5 computers for a class size of 30 students. They ran a gasoline generator for 2 hours a day to power the 5 computers.  Now, the classrooms and administrative offices have power for lights, sound and proyectors; they have 15 computers to teach basic and advanced computer skills; and community members can charge their cellphones and lanterns at school. To top it off, the school now has 2 water filters to provide their students with clean drinking water.    The project creates new access to information and communications for more opportunity and a chance to break out of poverty.

Solar Schools are more than lighting and improved education, they are also demonstrations of how solar power and water filters work, increasing awareness of how 21st century technologies can be accessible to all income levels. Just as cellphones have become a common appliance for all income levels worldwide, solar power and water filtration are becoming essential technologies for development. First things first, people need to learn about these solutions and experience them first hand to trust the product.

Mayan Power and Light entreprenuers will provide access to these essential technologies in 2020 by meeting with community leaders and promoting the products in town markets. The solar schools lend the entreprenuers more credibility in their community as they can refer to a local demonstration project where the community is benefiting from the very solutions that can be installed in low-income households. 

See our attached Annual Report to learn more about the capacity building and program development we've achieved in 2019 to level-up our organization for more efficiency, effectiveness and sustainable impact. 

Children are excited to learn computers
Children are excited to learn computers
Street School children have stable,solar lighting
Street School children have stable,solar lighting
Community leaders have lights to meet at night
Community leaders have lights to meet at night

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Exemplary Project Award
Exemplary Project Award

It's our third award this year! 

Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association selected our Solar School Computer Lab project with the community of Tiritibol as an exemplary project in the field of renewable energy!

In 2018, ATC and community volunteers installed solar power to electrify classrooms and run a laptop computer lab at Tiritibol Primary School - a village 3 hours away from the nearest high school. 

It was a true collaborative project: supporters in the US donated used laptops; volunteers brought them down, donors covered installation costs, the community covered food and locally available materials.

The high level of participation from the community ensured the project's long term sustainability. They set up a Solar Committee, in charge of maintaining the system and managing a savings account for replacement parts.  The school teachers and Parent's Association helped install the system so several community leaders had an in-depth understanding of the technology.

The goal was to teach 180 rural school children how to type so they could access the same modern education of their urban counterparts. With basic computer skills, rural kids have a chance at high school, professional jobs, and university to break out of poverty.

In a follow-up visit 3 months ago, we returned to find that the laptop computers are not only teaching children how to type, but they began a distance high school program online! 

This year the first 7 teenagers are going to high school in their rural village, and that number is going to keep growing every year as their younger siblings get a head start with computer classes. 

PS: Still trying to remember the other two awards this year?

  • In June we won the Energy Globe Award for Guatemala innovative solutions to climate change. 
  • In October we won the American Made Solar Prize for designing a 20-year solar kit. 
Solar installed by volunteers powers computers
Solar installed by volunteers powers computers
Solar Computer Lab at Tiritibol public school
Solar Computer Lab at Tiritibol public school

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Team Activity to Set up a Business
Team Activity to Set up a Business

Our social business workshops are special, and we'll say it loud and clear.

In Guatemala, it's become pretty common knowledge that there simply aren't enough jobs to keep people properly housed and fed. The national government, public schools and non profits agree that entreprenuership is the most realistic solution for youth and women to generate an income in this lifetime.  And we agree! 

But most "entreprenuership programs" are, in fact, teaching production skills like baking, sewing, candle-making, etc. They barely address the most important parts of business success: sales skills, personal motivation, financial tracking and how to save-and-reinvest in your business.  

Mayan Power and Light makes basic business skills accessible to everyone, and we take it a step further too. Microentreprenuers are the ambitious leaders in a community, we help them make a plan to serve their community's social and environmental needs.

The women entreprenuers of ASODI are ready to design their business plans to make a living that serves their families while caring for their community's social and environmental needs.  They represented a range of common businesses from selling tamales on the street, selling weavings in the market, to starting up the community bakery and Fair Trade shop. 

In the first workshop we discussed ways that their businesses could do even more good for Nahuala.  They suggested using biodegradable packaging like tamale leaves to avoid plastic bags. Creating a Fair Trade location by the bakery for women to sell their work at fair prices.  A percentage of sales from this Fair Trade store will get cycled back to the nonprofit to create opportunities for a new group of women. 

In this week's workshop, we covered the 4 keys to business start-up and conveyed some basic sales strategies to keep customers returning to your tamale stand, your weavings, your bakery.

A very positive side-effect of teaching social business concepts is that these new entreprenuers establish a unique brand as they enter into the market. They attract attention for their ethical business practices and role model good stewardship to others. 

Rosy and Marilena, MPL business mentors
Rosy and Marilena, MPL business mentors

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High School girls learn intro to business skills
High School girls learn intro to business skills

After months of hard work by our team of trainers, we're proud to announce the completion of our brand-new educational curriculum! 

Later this month we will be debuting our new curriculum with a group of rural women in cooperation with the Municipal Women's office in Colomba, Quetzaltenango.

It's strategically designed to get rural entreprenuers active in the market within the first 3 months of training with practical exercises and coaching over 10 months that progressively builds her business. 

We match business training with empowerment training to build public speaking confidence, emotional resiliency skills and determination to help them succeed with their life goals despite gender barriers.

Our special focus on social businesses that promote awareness & education requires workshops on preventative health & environmental awareness to 'teach the teachers' and inspire them with the impact they can make in these areas. 

If you are interested in the details of our course, here's a brief outline of how we set up rural social businesses over our 12 year program:

 

Empowerment & Entreprenuership training:

    Over 192 hours of in-person trainings provide core and advanced skills necessary to start a microenterprise and advocate for her community. Each workshop topic is directly tied to her success in distributing MPL products while giving her practical experience prior to developing her long-term business plans. The educational program includes practical homework projects, reading, and self-tracking to help new entrepreneurs establish successful habits in business and personal life.   Bi-weekly phone calls coach students to help them achieve their goals. Pre-assessments provide baseline data of each student to be compared to her progress throughout the year. Her final business plan and pitch provide a final assessment of skills obtained during the course of the program. 

 

Introduction to Small Business

Students become well versed in “Lean Start-up” methods to develop small businesses with a minimal budget. They become familiar with the Business Model Canvas to analyze the MPL business model and apply it in their communities. During the final months of the program, students develop their own business plans that include positive social and environmental impacts as well as personal financial success. 

Market Studies teach students the process of identifying clients, business competitors and opportunities in the market with tools to segment and understand their local markets. New entreprenuers will understand the Growth-Share Matrix and the Boston Consulting Group Matrix to strengthen their business plans. 

Mastering the Elevator Pitch gives students the confidence to express their business, goals and products to attract the attention of potential customers or investors. As public figures, social business women have extensive practical application in town fairs, tabling and community council presentations.

Sales Strategies show new entreprenuers how to access their market segments understanding Value Propositions of products and services. New social entreprenuers implement Mayan Power and Light sales strategies of presentations and workshops to approach low-income and under educated market segments with solutions to basic needs.  These skills and others are incorporated into their own business plans to provide long-term services to their local market. 

Towards the end of the year, new entrepreneurs understand the process to formalize and register their business under Guatemalan law.  They will understand important topics like labor laws; tax requirements and fiscal regulations; forms, fees and processes to register their business with Guatemala’s tax agency.

 

Financial Literacy 

We train new microentrepreneurs in financial education and how to manage the economic resources they generate. Since women are the often administrators of home finances it is important to recognize between needs and desires, saving and responsible financial decision-making. Students directly apply their learning to managing budgets, inventory and receipts through the Mayan Power and Light program.

 

Personal Empowerment:

This essential topic addresses the main barriers to success in business for women in Guatemala: self-confidence, communication skills, emotional control, resiliency and motivation.

In dynamic, participatory activities, new business women learn Interpersonal Communication public to build public speaking confidence to hold public workshops, engage with Municipal government representatives, approach customers and respond to their questions.  Strategies for resilience, emotional control and motivation address the ups personal challenges associated in the ups and downs of starting a new business. 

Reading is assigned throughout the program with homework questions based on the readings and in-class reflections. Working with motivational books such as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey; and The Biggest Seller in the World.

 

Leadership:

As advocates for their community’s development, this module will teach the skills to lead community processes to plan and execute sustainable, community-led projects. By the end of this training, new social businesswomen can confidently build relationships with Municipal and Community committees, complete a needs analysis, identify community projects and create sustainability plans for long term maintenance. 

 

Environment: 

As public promotors of green technologies, social businesswomen educate the public via her free public workshops.  This module assures they have a complete understanding of the effects of climate change, efficient use and management of natural resources and personal commitments to protect the environment. 

 

Health: 

An introduction to preventative health provides a review of techniques to prevent the most common waterborne and airborne diseases in Guatemala.  With an introduction to WASH and Nutrition social businesswomen can educate her clients about important practices to increase family health and the impact of water filters, clean cookstoves and solar power.


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Organization Information

Appropriate Technology Collaborative

Location: Ann Arbor, MI - USA
Website:
Project Leader:
Monika Goforth
Ann Arbor, MI United States
$118,023 raised of $120,000 goal
 
1,666 donations
$1,977 to go
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