Friday, 10 Nov 2000

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil

Today I am working on the last details of our business plan for the Social Entrepreneur Award, promoted by McKinsey and Ashoka. This award recognizes the development of financially sustainable and strategic business plans that can help take “citizen sector organizations” to a new level of success. Out of 187 entries, the plan devleoped by IDEAAS, an NGO I work with, is among the 10 finalists.

Bring power to the people.

We have been working on a new model to quickly bring electricity to the whole interior of Brazil. Because the majority of Brazilians without electric power live in very isolated rural areas without access
to the grid, we envision using photovoltaic cells to provide solar power. In Rio Grande do Sul alone, there are approximately 150,000 people isolated from the electric power networks, and it is well known that there are no plans to expand conventional electrical services to give them access. Besides, we can offer CDM — Clean Development Mechanism — credits, which will increase funding for IDEAAS.

This project, which we call “The Sun Shines for All,” has an initial phase of rural electrification and a second phase in which we help rural residents raise their incomes by increasing agricultural production, starting new businesses, and improving education, and in which we provide them with access to information technology, including the Internet. Without electric power, none of this would be possible.

Happy, organic cows.

We are also working on a “Save the Pampas” project in southern Brazil, where there are approximately 10 million hectares of pampas. In 1900, there were 3,000 hectares of desert in this region, but now there are an additional 30,000 hectares of desert created by the actions of people. To add flora and fauna to this dismal equation, approximately 150 species in the region are under threat of extinction. Our project here consists of an integrated plan for reforestation of desert areas, rural photovoltaic electrification to help keep farmers on their land, and a plan for optimization of grazing in the pampas. All these activities, besides providing direct benefits to the land, also generate CDM credits.

IDEAAS, through its staff, not only has the knowledge to implement models for sustainable development through sustainable projects, but also to manage the IDEAAS Funds, which guarantee the continuity of the projects. With the consolidation of the models we are implementing here in Rio Grande do Sul, Parana, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and other Brazilian states, and with the model of IDEAAS Fund ready for implementation, I hope that we will be able to launch a project that will rapidly reach the entire country through a network of social franchises. The goal is to use renewable energy to produce without destroying. The first steps have already been taken.

Nos vamos chegar la. We will get there.

This is my final contribution to Grist. I would like to thank you for reading my words this week. Please email me at ideaas@plug-in.com.br for additional information; I will be happy to answer your questions.

The story does not end here.