iDE UK at the Ashden Awards

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The iDE UK team attended the Ashden Awards last week. Here are some of the thoughts of one of our volunteers, Sheri Haward:

“I was pleased to attend the Ashden awards last week. There are some highlights  to interning at iDE, not least to be able to participate in a conference that promotes what is happening at the cutting edge of sustainable energy in the UK and abroad.

Yet sustainability is a bit of a buzz word nowadays, isn’t it? Is it really making a difference to people’s lives or effecting changes around the world or even in the United Kingdom? When you look at the news, it doesn’t seem so, there is just the perpetual doom and gloom about extreme weather events or new weather records or failed or failing political summits. Adding to this is the realisation that resources are being used up at an alarming rate and the alternatives are confusing or seem unpopular.

Thankfully, the Ashden awards  provide the  perfect antidote, showing us how the answers are not just with the big shot politicians or EU, UN or G8 agendas, but with ordinary people like you and me. It’s people like us who have come up with a  variety of inspirational,  innovative approaches and technologies, which are the key to getting sustainable energy solutions to reach scale, not just in the developing world, but in the UK too. As the Director of the Wadebridge Renewal Energy Network, a UK finalist, said, “People with no resources & no influence CAN do something about the energy crisis.”

iDE is a keen supporter of Ashden and won the award for ‘Avoided deforestation’ last year for ‘Hydrologic’, an enterprise manufacturing low-cost ceramic water filters, which it developed in Cambodia. Two thirds of the population of Cambodia didn’t have access to safe water when iDE started with Hydrologic. Most had to resort to boiling it, a process which involved chopping down Cambodia’s precious rainforest.

Mrs. Chey and her Hydrologic

A Cambodian home with the Hydrologic water filter in pride of place next to the TV. Photo: iDE UK- David Graham

Following last year’s award, Hydrologic has attracted investment from a number of new partners and Hydrologic carbon credits have been sold for the first time on the voluntary market. It has flourished over this year, sales have increased significantly –  with over 250,000 sold in the last ten years. These water filters are becoming a fixture in many Cambodian homes (see photo above). You can learn more from the video about Hydrologic in Cambodia from last year’s Ashden Award here.

The 2013 finalists had all come up with energy solutions, which are being adopted by communities and some which were being pioneered by whole communities too, like in Wadebridge in Cornwall, a town that has collectively decided to generate 100% of its electricity by 2020. This year’s International awards featured organisations that are investing in both energy efficiency and renewable energy to boost economic growth by creating new livelihoods, jobs and skills.

iDE as a whole (not just me) congratulates the International Gold winners, Solar Aid, a charity that pioneers solar powered lamps, as the alternative to smoky kerosene lamps. Most families want a lamp, not just to improve the quality of life in their homes, but so children can study and get ahead. This creates an enormous market for solar-powered lamps, in the last 8 weeks alone, Steve Andrews, the Solar Aid CEO commented that a 100,000 lamps were sold.  By switching to solar powered lamps, families in Africa save around £77 per year, which is a substantial amount for poor families.

I also liked another finalist, Azuri.  Azuri offers pay-as-you-go scratch cards for a domestic, small solar energy scheme, so they don’t have to take loans or microfinance for sustainable electrification of their homes. As Simon Bransfield-Garth of Azuri stated: “Stop viewing rural Africa as victims, but as customers.”

iDE has always had the same approach to its small-holder, farming clients. They are not beneficiaries of charity, but pro-active, entrepreneurial men and women who are looking for long-term sustainable ways to get out of poverty. iDE facilitates these solutions, with the aim  that they can be set up and remain in place because they are commercially viable.

Attending the Ashden conference was an inspiring event that actually filled me with hope. Hope for the future of this planet, this country and people in general. The participants were all passionate in their commitment to sustainability and the many different energy solutions offered not only made sense from a climate change perspective, but were significantly more economical in the long run. You can read more about The Ashden awards  here. 

(hawardsheri@gmail.com)

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iDE Cambodia Celebrates Another Successful Year!

iDE Cambodia

Last month, Rachel Pringle stopped by our London office to tell us about the latest news and successes of iDE Cambodia.

Rachel joined iDE Cambodia in March 2012, and is thoroughly enjoying her time out there! Fortunately for us, she was able to drop by our London office during her time back in the UK for Christmas to give us a fascinating update on some of the amazing work happening out in Phnom Penh.

iDE Cambodia have had a wonderfully successful year, the big success story of the year was iDE Cambodia’s ceramic water filter enterprise Hydrologic winning an Ashden Award www.ashden.org – a huge achievement which has benefited the project in numerous ways. As well as bringing in a variety of opportunities, support, networks and connections, Rachel and the team can now use their knowledge from Cambodia to work with partners to develop similar commercial operations around the world, helping with product development, commercial opportunities, technical support and sales models. In 2013, Hydrologic will also branch out to develop new products and services to improve safe water access in rural Cambodian schools.

We were delighted to hear that Hydrologic with support from Nexus Carbon for Development have had their first Voluntary Gold Standard carbon credits issued in December http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org/bringing-clean-water-to-cambodia. Two thirds of rural households in Cambodia use wood or charcoal to boil water before drinking. Although helpful for purifying water, this has a high environmental cost. Hydrologic ceramic water filters reduce the amount of wood burnt and bolster rural economic development. By displacing water boiling practices, Hydrologic helps households avoid burning over 18,000 tons of wood each year, saving more than 40,000 tons of CO2 emissions yearly.

Hydrologic was also a winner of an Impact Business Award in 2011, meaning Rachel was able to attend an Impact Business Forum event in Pretoria, South Africa where she was able to gather ideas and learn from other entrepreneurs.

Another aspect we were particularly interested in here at iDE UK was the Hydrologic microfinance scheme carried out in partnership with microfinance institution Visionfund, whereby customers purchasing ceramic water filters are given the opportunity to take out a loan to pay for the installation of the filter. This has proven extremely successful as the vast majority of customers opt to take the loan when available and to date 100% have repaid the loan within the given repayment period. Visionfund also partner with iDE Cambodia’s sanitation team to provide microloans to rural customers for latrines. In 2012, Rachel has been working to develop financing options, including partnerships with microfinance institutions and web-based microfinance platform KIVA for iDE Cambodia’s Farm Business Advisor (FBA) enterprise to enable farmers and FBA entrepreneurs to purchase agricultural inputs and equipment that will improve their yields and income.

iDE Cambodia’s innovation team i-Lab have also had a busy year –  the i-Lab facility develops products and services that challenge key issues for the rural poor in Cambodia. The i-Lab designs radically affordable, market-based solutions for the poor to help them take steps out of poverty on their own. They also work to build the capacities of other organisations so that they can more effectively innovate pro-poor solutions. The i-Lab has now secured a number of innovation projects in 2013 including in the areas of hand hygiene, and clean drinking water access.

 

We can’t wait to see what is in store for Cambodia in 2013!

Thanks for stopping by Rachel!

 

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

Rachel (left) accepting our Impact Business Forum award

iDE UK invited to speak at Innovations Against Poverty event

iDE UK CEO Lewis Temple spoke about pioneering iDE Farm Business Advisor (FBA) scheme at recent event in Stockholm.

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iDE UK CEO Lewis Temple spoke about pioneering iDE Farm Business Advisor (FBA) scheme at recent event in Stockholm.

On 26th November, Sida’s Innovations Against Poverty programme held their first ever Conference and Awards ceremony in the Waterfront Congress Centre in Stockholm. Innovations Against Poverty challenges the private sector to develop products, services and business models that can contribute to poverty reduction and combat climate change. The conference was aimed at bringing together like-minded entrepreneurs, incubators and business practitioners to meet and share ideas about inclusive business development. As part of their mission to help innovative private sector development, IAP have awarded iDE UK a €20,000 grant to fund an initiative bringing the Farm Business Advisor model to Mozambique.

Lewis was invited to share iDE UK’s thinking on innovative solutions to combat poverty. Drawing on the Nestlé Creating Shared Value award winning Farm Business Advisor scheme in Cambodia, Lewis was able to demonstrate what can be achieved in Mozambique. The Farm Business Advisor initiative trains local entrepreneurs to sell agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seeds to local smallholder farmers, as well as provide support and advice in order to help farmers grow market oriented crops. This approach ensures that farmers are able to improve their agricultural productivity, thereby enabling them to generate a stable income that can dramatically improve their living standards, and reduce food insecurity. This also provides Farm Business Advisors with a sustainable livelihood and income.

In Cambodia Farm Business Advisors currently work with over 15,000 farmer clients.  In Mozambique we estimate that farmers could increase their income by £186 a year, with FBA’s increasing their income by up to £621 a year.

In his presentation Lewis focused on describing the Farm Business Advisor franchise model, whereby Farm Business Advisors act as franchisees linked to a central franchisor that provides training and business support. In this way, Farm Business Advisors are individual entrepreneurs, yet operate under the brand, training and products of the wider scheme. This model presents a viable solution to the problem of getting the right products and services the very last mile, into the hands of the poorest and most isolated farmers.

Lewis reported that “Innovations Against Poverty are unusual in that they are prepared to take risks by investing in businesses trying to reach poorest. In this way, they are leading the way in using grant funding to enabling businesses to effectively reach the bottom of the pyramid.” He added that the event “was an excellent opportunity to bring together amazing entrepreneurs working across Africa and Asia. Everyone was able to share experiences and inspire one another. I was delighted to be part of the programme and am already looking forward to next year’s event.”

We would also like to say congratulations to sanitation initiative Sanergy, who won the main prize of Social Innovator of the Year!  Sanergy has created a sustainable sanitation business solution in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya that is providing clean and hygienic toilet services to some of Africa’s poorest urban slum dwellers.

Find out more about iDE UK and our Farm Business Advisor programme.

Take a look at Lewis’ presentation from the conference.

World Toilet Day 2012: iDE promotes toilets in Cambodia

iDE project is revo-LOO-tionising sanitation markets in Cambodia and around the world.

Toilets are not exactly glamorous, but installing and using a toilet is vital in ensuring people stay clean and healthy, and can save thousands of lives each year. iDE provide sustainable sanitation solutions in Cambodia and around the world through human-centered and market-led approaches that make a real difference.

iDE know that promoting sanitation means more than just making toilets and handing them out to the poorest villages. Our approach is to develop, manufacture and market toilets with local communities, ensuring all products are viable, sustainable and succeed in improving the lives of the poorest.

With only 23% of rural Cambodians owning their own toilet, the market and scope for providing toilets and improving sanitation is huge. When we started our project in Cambodia in 2009, we understood the barriers many poor families face in acquiring a toilet, such as social values, a lack of awareness and poor access to credit. That is why we use sanitation marketing and human-centered design to ensure the toilets satisfy local aspirations and needs. We have also partnered with VisionFund to offer low interest loans to help locals buy their own toilet. Over 31,000 easy latrines have been sold in the last two years in Cambodia and we aim to sell 100,000 more in the next two years!

Through adopting a Sanitation marketing (SanMark) approach, toilets are marketed as an aspirational purchase, meaning the local community are actively encouraged to buy and use a toilet not just for their hygienic benefits, but also as a symbol of prestige. This also means that demand creation for sanitation is no longer the sole burden of government and NGOs. This project has enabled local entrepreneurs to profitably create and supply high demands for sanitation, in larger numbers, a shorter time frame, and with lower costs than any sanitation program has previously been able to achieve. This project was first run in Vietnam from about 2002 and its success means it has now been rolled out in Timor Leste, Laos, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia and Zambia!

Through treating people as customers and not as recipients of charity iDE are able to move beyond asking “what is good for people?” to “what is important to people?” We can understand what people need and how their aspirations can be fulfilled, supplying life-changing products through sustainable market chains. We look at supply and demand in order to establish new supply chains, creating new opportunities for manufacturers, suppliers, sellers and customers.

Through promoting toilets as a desirable and aspirational purchase, and by making it much easier for the poorest families to access markets and buy a toilet, iDE are helping improve sanitation on a monumental scale throughout Cambodia and around the world.

iDE UK, supporting World Toilet Day 2012.

Find out more about iDE UK Sanitation projects now!

Life after the Ashden Award

iDE Hydrologic in Cambodia has flourished after winning the award back in May.

We recently shared with you the fantastic news that iDE Cambodia’s social enterprise Hydrologic had won carbon offset funding as well as winning a prestigious Ashden Award! These awards recognise and reward high calibre, pioneering enterprises that provide local energy solutions which cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives. Hydrologic provides the technology and expertise to make and market ceramic water filters, which provide clean water quickly and cheaply. Since 2001 over 250,000 water filters have been sold by Hydrologic, transforming the lives of thousands of people living in Cambodia.

The iDE Cambodia Director Michael Roberts picked up the prize back in May, where he was congratulated by HRH The Prince of Wales. Speaking with Michael about the aftermath of winning the award and future implications for Hydrologic, the award has obviously had a fundamental impact, offering all kinds of opportunities and support for both Michael and Hydrologic.

The Ashden team have stayed in regular contact with Michael and iDE Cambodia since the award was given and have offered advice and support to help Hydrologic flourish even further. They will also be sponsoring Michael to attend a social entrepreneurship course in Singapore in November to help further develop his skills and network. Hydrologic has been linked through Ashden to UK based NGO Challenges Worldwide, which matches volunteer business experts to NGOs and social enterprises around the world, offering assistance with mentoring, strategy and growth. Following the award, the project attracted investment from a number of donors who have agreed to help fund the project and purchase carbon credits from the project. The awards ceremony itself was a chance for Michael to feel inspired and encouraged in Hydrologic, to gain some much deserved recognition and to meet valuable contacts working in similar projects all over the world. Through these contacts iDE Cambodia is now looking to offer similar water filter enterprises the benefit of their experience, support and advice in order to help grow and develop these enterprises and follow in the success of Hydrologic.

The Ashden Award has been an invaluable source of recognition and support, and the project continues to grow and solve challenges in order to provide sustainable solutions to help poor rural communities in Cambodia.

iDE Hydrologic wins carbon offset funding in Cambodia

Cambodia project is first sustainable business in Asia to be registered under the voluntary Gold Standard scheme and benefit from carbon offset funding.

 

Nearly 40% of rural Cambodians still have no access to safe drinking water. Untreated water and poor sanitation result in about 10 million cases of diarrhoea and 10,000 deaths per year in Cambodia, mainly affecting children in rural areas.

In 2001 iDE began to tackle this problem by introducing low-cost Ceramic Water Purifier technology to Cambodia, setting up local manufacturing and distribution networks and stimulating demand through social marketing campaigns. In 2009, iDE spun off the water filter initiative as an autonomous social enterprise called Hydrologic. Today, Hydrologic manufacture and sell ceramic water purifiers which provide clean water to rural households, reduce the amount of wood burnt to boil water, create local jobs and bolster economic development. By displacing water boiling practices, the filters are helping Cambodian households to avoid the unsustainable burning of 18,000 tons of wood per year, saving 41,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions yearly.

After being named as a winner at the prestigious Ashden Awards, Hydrologic has now become the first sustainable business in Asia to register to the voluntary Gold Standard scheme, an award winning certification standard for carbon mitigation projects. The project has attracted new investment from a number of private sector sources, including Impact Finance, who provided a loan to support the development of the project. Multinational company, Deutsche Post DHL, have committed to purchasing the carbon credits that the project produces. Hydrologic has also joined forces with Nexus, a nonprofit cooperative of NGOs and social enterprises that leverage sustainable funding from the sale of high-quality carbon offsets, a concept referred to as “Carbon for Development”. Nexus provided financial and technical assistance with the carbon certification process, and is supporting the commercialization of carbon credits by engaging companies and public institutions on a fair approach to offsetting.

We are very proud of iDE Hydrologic and excited about the future possibilities not just for this project but for sustainable market-based initiatives that promote economic development in an environmentally sound way.

iDE Director Meets Prince Charles

Prior to picking up an Ashden Award for Hydrologic last week, iDE Cambodia Country Director, Michael Roberts met with Prince Charles.

Michael: On Wednesday, May 30, the 2012 Ashden Awards winners met with His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales at his residence in London.  We were allotted a generous one and a half hours out of his busy schedule in the run up to the Jubilee celebration of the Queen’s coronation. We were told that this was on account of his personal interest in sustainable energy, which was also reflected by his attentive listening and engagement as each of the twelve winners presented their projects in brief. It was apparent that he had been briefed on the projects beforehand.

When my turn came with His Royal Highness, I emphasised the important role that design had played in creating an elegant solution with multiple benefits for poor rural households and how a commercial approach allowed for more sustainable results that could spread more easily. He said that he was fascinated by the iDE/Hydrologic project and wished us good success. At the end he expressed appreciation for the impressive work of all the winners and correctly pointed out the importance and challenge of scaling up good ideas.

Prince Charles was gracious, engaging and witty throughout.  Although not large in stature, I noted that he had sturdy hands, not so unlike the many farmers’ hands that I have shaken in my life.

Further reading: Since 2001 the iDE/Hydrologic ceramic water purifier enterprise has been providing clean drinking water in rural Cambodia.