United Nations Environmental Program Names EarthSpark International Implementing Partner for Haiti Initiative
by Allison Archambault
The UN Environmental Program (UNEP) named EarthSpark International as one of five original implementing partners in its multi-year multi-sector Côte Sud Initiative which aims to bring sustainable prosperity to Haiti’s Southern Peninsula.
In recognition of EarthSpark’s leading work in clean energy delivery, UNEP has asked EarthSpark to advise on the development of the Initative’s 5 Year Plan for the energy sector and is directly supporting EarthSpark’s work with funding and logistical support.
UNEP awarded EarthSpark $182,000 in grant funding and also delivered $80,000 to the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for large capital purchases directed by EarthSpark.
The one-year grant will fund EarthSpark’s work to expand clean energy retail operations and also to design, manage, and implement Haiti’s first ‘smart’ microgrid. The exemplary micro-grid will highlight the value of prepayment, efficiency, and collaborative business models to deliver localized grid electricity.
Retail-level service provides low-income Haitians with access to efficient cookstoves and small-scale solar electricity systems. These high-quality, low-cost, efficient and renewable energy technologies save money over time and reduce strains on health and the environment. Clean Energy retail sites create jobs and serve as local centers of energy excellence - promoting “energy literacy” and technical training and attracting other enterprises. The model is highly scalable: EarthSpark’s local partners will soon be serving customers across the entire South-West of Haiti.
“This grant will enable EarthSpark to transition from pilot scale to deployment,” said EarthSpark founder Dan Schnitzer. “In doing so, our impact will increase by an order of magnitude, bringing access to clean energy across an entire province of Haiti.”
“EarthSpark has been on the ground working with communities and getting hard data about what works. They bring great value to this Initiative,” said Andrew Morton, Haiti Regeneration Initiative Coordinator for UNEP.
As a social enterprise working in rural Haiti since 2008, EarthSpark has a deep understanding of low-income customers’ energy needs and has strong local partnerships with community organizations, corporations, international institutions, and government agencies.
In partnership with local Haitian businesses, community groups and the diaspora, EarthSpark has launched Enèji Pwòp, a Haitian brand for small-scale clean energy products. Through micro-franchising and micro-consignment, Enèji Pwòp is building a network of independent retailers to sell efficient cookstoves and stand-alone solar electricity systems to households and small businesses.
The first Enèji Pwòp storefront opened its doors in Les Anglais, a small town in the South, in July 2010 and has since generated over US$28,000 in revenue. EarthSpark has partnered with Haiti’s largest micro-finance organization, Fonkoze, and has leveraged global innovations around energy lending to offer financing options that are unique in Haiti.
EarthSpark seeks to leverage the UNEP support with additional funding to increase the reach of its 2011-2013 operations. With additional support, EarthSpark will be able to reach important economies of scale that will further reduce prices for clean energy products, speed delivery, and increase the number of lives reached.
About UNEP’s Côte Sud Initiative
The Côte Sud Initiative (CSI), launched in January 2011, is the most ambitious initiative to date supporting the sustainable recovery and development of south-western Haiti. The CSI’s 20-year vision is to improve the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people in Haiti’s South Department. This will be achieved through a complex and diverse program which addresses the root causes of extreme poverty, including environmental degradation, vulnerability to disaster and limited access to social services.