November 05, 2007

The Future

• Manufacturing
– Provides employment and drives the prices down further
• Franchising
• Replication/Scaling
• Other technology for deeper community needs.
– Ice manufacturing
– Communications
– Irrigation
– Business centers
– Sanitation


• All 50 lights rented out!
• Another 100 plus customers waiting for lights!
• Partners & Employees working together
• Social ROI & ROI
• Iterative Product Development

Lessons Learned

A community bank established a few years back by Actionnel, to facilitate development within the community is used as the stable, credit worthy entity. User fees are paid direct to the Pedal Power bank account. Charles's salary and enterprise expenses are paid out from this account. In addition, this simplifies the record keeping process. This revenue builds equity for bank, which in turn provides additional money for loans to community.

Lessons Learned:
• Language - Translators
• Community relationships - Political & social
• Currency Exchange - multiple currencies, barter
• The Power of Poverty - Helping to get on the first rung of the development ladder
• Access – roads, weather, internet, Skype

Market & Site Assessment and Preparation

Marketing Specifics:
-Identify and recruit local residents to operate services
-Community Capacity/Need
-Open door policy for Community’s questions & concerns
-Show and tell with equipment

Technology Specifics:
Work together to find solutions that fit specific needs
-Engineering specifics

Commerce Specifics:
-Financial Instruments
-Access to Credit
-Association/Community Banking options
-Sales Agents

dissigno Duties

Project Development
• Identify areas of opportunities
• Build the partnerships
• Find solutions by being technology agnostic

Marketing and Promotion

A marketing and promotion campaign will create the necessary educational understanding of the product and service that the pedal power provides. It includes:

• Movie night - Free screenings of movies
• Concerts – Free concerts and theater events
• Community parties to explain enterprise and present the equipment
• Sales of other products including off the shelf products
• Operator and Employee recruiting
• Credit – Info and access including established banking institutes and advice for community banking systems and processes

Other technology
• Cell Phone Charging
• Water purification
• Cold Storage
• Pumps for irrigation

Partnership Relations

• Align missions
• Build and maintain partner interests

Additional Private Investment

Enterprise Operations

Operations are conducted by local partners & operators - It’s the community’s business!

Illiteracy is high in the adult community so the switch is made to pledge of word & honor versus written contracts requiring signatures.

Instead of a sophisticated understanding of contractual obligations, Pedal Power opted for Polaroid pictures. First, who doesn’t like to have their picture taken? So the fun of a photograph, appearing right before your eyes can’t be under estimated for the community (especially since the technology is new and exciting!). Second it makes everyone understand that they are held up for the whole community to see, and are therefore under pressure from the communal group to honor their obligations.

Other programs include the “Frequent Renter Program, which provides give aways to customers who consistently pay their user fees on time, over a period of two or three months. Gifts include 1 month free rental, other products that can be powered by the batteries such as radios.

Pedal Power’s day to day operations are run by both Charles Gasmy and Actionnel Fleurisma in Cathor Haiti, and Gary Zieff from dissigno in San Francisco. Charles is in charge of the technology. He also monitors performance, service, and maintenance of the technology to provide feedback and performance data to the technology partner. He maintains and services it. His duties include the following:

• Weekly Status Reports
• General operation of the battery charging enterprise
• Maintain charges in 12 volt charging station as needed
• Maintain charges in home unit batteries as needed
• Maintain and repair equipment as needed
• Organize and prepare battery/LED units for rental
• Rent home units and LED lights to customers
• Maintain the equipment in proper working order
• Ensure customer satisfaction
• Identify and execute on other opportunities
• Charge cell phones
• Rent tools
• Partner with other businesses
• Play movies for entertainment/education
• Cold storage

The community bank acts as the Financial Operations, which includes the following:
• Collect rental payments
• Maintain accounts of home units
• Maintain accounts of payables/billable

Private Investment

Private investment provides an economic incentive to solve social issues. This not only changes the way business is conducted, but more importantly the way we look at economic development. Rural poor communities become opportunities and customers, not burdens for charity.

The numerous examples of this include:
Harvard - medical services
India - Water Health International
Brazil - Agroelectric System of Appropriate Technology
South America - Cemex,
Bangladesh - Grameen Phone
Africa – Nokia

Community Partners

Pedal Power is a two-way street requiring support from the community. The enterprise can only survive, providing products and services to the community if the community provides support. This two way street is essential, and must be established from the beginning through community meetings. These meetings are an opportunity to spell out as clear as possible the expectation from the enterprise side as well as from the community side.

In addition to providing goods and service not currently available in the community the enterprise can offer ancillary enterprise, employment opportunities, and investment. The enterprise is currently employing Charles Gasmy as the operator. He is now able to support his wife, child and other members of his family. The user fees pay his salary to take “ownership” and responsibility for the equipment. He ensures that the batteries are fully charged and operating properly. He address community concerns. He identifies and engages other opportunities for the battery power.

In addition, Charles will engage and identify other community members to create partnerships. Peddling the generator, delivery of the batteries, retrieval of spent batteries, and service.

This influx of cash will create buying power which attracts additional private investment to solve deeper needs. In addition, as Pedal Power Project shows that investment in the community can show returns this will help the community to gain stability for additional investment.

Technology Partners

Technology partners bring to the table new, existing, or prototype products destined either for the developing world or the developed world. The advantage of creating partnerships for the developer is test bed opportunities for performance and feedback as well as product group testing. Two way tech transfer develops through this feedback, where end-users and designers collaborate. Stakeholders not only gain market growth, but also benefit from product design practices in a real world laboratory.

Investment can realize market growth, where lots of small enterprises return a social return on investment. Social investors benefit from seeing ventures return in the form of additional school days, improved wealth generation, improved health statistics, and reduced impact on health services. For example, by improving drinking water, children suffering from preventable water borne diseases free up hospital beds, allowing critical care patients access to doctors and hospital care.

The technology and subsequent enterprises provide employment for local community members. These small investment can equal a big impact. The Pedal Power Project will show proof of concept, and encourage additional investment to replicable and scale the initial deployment.

Site Assesment

Developers need to be prepared to enter into a pre-existing yet dynamic environment, with established histories and cultures, and often complex political, social, and economic relationships between groups. Projects can easily become politicized and complicated, which leads to or exacerbates conflicts. Developers must manage the process and relationships proactively by adapting established good practice approaches and principles. ® 2007 INTERNATIONAL FINANCE CORPORATION

Distributing and selling products to markets in developing countries can be de-railed through any number of government or social factors. Some of the risks to operational success include importation restrictions, policy changes, corruption, difficult transportation pathways (physical and economical), language barriers, and political instability. One key factor that we used to mitigate against some of these threats is seeking and securing partnerships with major players within the community. By working with governments and NGO’s that already operate in Bayonnais, and by seeking in-country agents that are native to the language and culture, the hazardous path can be turned from risk and threats to opportunities.

First, it is essential to understand the community and its needs before attempting any sort of enterprise. This includes learning about the physical, cultural, and spiritual community. Second, a in depth understanding of the community’s specifics needs is essential. Finally an open door and transparent process in which the community can question and co-develop the enterprise, including an acceptable price point by match existing expenses with superior technology, is critical.

Eco Lights Advantage

The pedal power system has several advantages over typical power generation infrastructure and technology such as solar, grid, and propane/kerosene. The technology is less expensive and does not require a fuel supply chain connecting users to suppliers and long-term variable costs. The system is safer and healthier. There is no fire, smoke inhalation, or burning risk. It reduces the need for wood fuel, further limiting the need to cut down trees. The pedal generator is made from parts that are easy to locate, even in developing communities, and can be serviced by non-specialized tools and equipment. Training and operation are simple, and easily communicated to any user and operator. The technology operates rain or shine, day or night. The Pedal Power Project will create local value chains, which can address deeper needs within the community. This is a blended value proposition combining social yields in a sustainable way and will be a critical step in stimulating further development for Haiti.

The Solution

Eco Systems designs and manufactures an innovative technology that produces electricity through pedaling. This electricity is then stored in a 12-volt deep cycle battery. Locally available smaller 6-volt motorcycle batteries are charged from the 12-volt battery and distributed with low wattage, LED lights for in home use.

Eco Systems current performance data (depending on use, atmospheric conditions, and other factors) shows that the battery/lighting units can produce lighting for 3 hours per night for up to one month. The Pedal Power pilot project set up a charging station and provided 50 home units to test feasibility and enterprise model operations. dissigno has contracted with Eco Systems for the equipment. OFCB assisted dissigno in identifying and hiring Charles Gasmy to operate the charging station. OFCB and dissigno rented out home units to 50 families for the pilot project rental program. Rental payments by these 50 families for the lighting/battery units and payment by other community members for the service of cell phone battery charging are paying Charles's salary.

Based on extensive research in the field of human power, basic assumptions of watts output for an average person are in the 50-watt range for up to hour or more. This data is based on weight, fitness, bicycle set up, and atmospheric conditions. An initial power setting based on rider mass might be 2-4 W/kg for an unfit person and 4-6 W/kg for a fit cyclist. According to Eco System’s own performance data; a strong cycle rider can deliver 70 Watts continuously for several hours to the deep cycle 12V battery.

The human as an engine is similar to a steam engine rather than an internal combustion engine, as it needs fuel to keep going, even at complete rest. Work metabolism, energy required to do work, is measured in kilocalories or joules of work divided by an efficiency factor of between .2 -.3. This means that for every 100 W of mechanical energy output, 333-500 W of energy input or fuel/food is required, above that which is needed to sustain life.

The lighting units chosen for this project are LED. LED lights require minimal watts to operate and are well within the capacity and performance of the Pedal Generator.

According to Eco Systems performance and testing one pedal generator and 12 volt battery can sustain the ongoing use of up to 200 home units, which include battery and LED units. Therefore the fifty units anticipated for the pilot project are well within performance range.

The Problem

Energy contributes not only to the improvement of education, health and living, conditions especially for women, but also to the development of economic activities and the generation of wealth. In Bayonnais, nearly 80,000 Haitians live without access to any form of electricity. Because of government, budget, and operation constraints there is no policy in place to tie this community to the central grid system. However, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) recently installed a PV system supporting OFCB Ministries School of 1,450 students. It is tied to an oversized 41kW diesel generator that runs 20 computers and lights for the students. The generator’s fuel costs are expensive, estimated to be around USD $4,838 each year. Currently, the main loads for this system are computers and lighting. This system also provides some electricity to members of the community for charging cell phone batteries. However, there is no distribution system, in the form of electricity cables or battery distribution. This forces some community members to travel several kilometers to use the power supply centrally located at the school. Other community members tie into the system through a dangerous combination of ad-hoc scavenged wiring. Students wishing to study after dark must use the lights at the school.

A human powered, distributed battery charging station allows end-users convenient access to electricity in the form of an environmentally benign point-of-use (POU) system. Pedal power electrical generation not only reduces the load on the fuel-based generator, reducing fuel consumption, but also creates the opportunity to move the point of distribution to additional locations extending the service area to other community members. A sustainable model encourages this enterprise to be self-sufficient. A POU system brings electricity into homes for lighting, which will reduce pollution from kerosen lanterns currently used for light. Lighting will also allow students to study and thereby improve their education, and men & women to engage in other activities beneficial to the household after sunset.

Cell phone charging is also very important as revealed by the demand from community members. Cell phones allow access to markets & information encouraging enterprise development and social interaction. Digicel, a local Caribbean carrier has already signed up 1.8 million users in Haiti, and is currently exploring expanding service to remote areas not currently covered. Digicel is also offering financial transactions through their cell phones, allowing community members access to savings and other bank transactions, which will encourage savings, loans and access to credit. Finally, a POU power system will not only stimulate enterprise development directly in operations, but also indirectly in the form of repair, deliver, and other ancillary development. Potential deeper needs that could be addressed with a POU system are cooking, irrigation, water filtering, and cold storage. Informal market research has revealed a demand for cold storage throughout Haiti.

Progressive Leadership

The OFCB School and community is an oasis of relative success in this sea of despair. Education is one of the most treasured aspirations of the Haitian People. After completing his studies abroad, Actionnel Fleurisma returned to his hometown of Bayonnais, Haiti, married his sweetheart, and began a family. He felt called to start a school and in late 1993, with Dimilsaint Mondelus, Firmin Saint-Louis, Lucner Saint-Louis and Saint-Victor Sejour co-founded a school in their childhood neighborhood of Bayonnais. At first they had 105 students and 3 teachers. There was no building, so they used a vacant Roman Catholic building the first year. During the second year they sat on banana leaf mats in a shady area beneath a mango tree. Each year the number of students grew. The following year they identified a Canadian organization in Port-au-Prince to help them build the school. The organization gave half the money promised and the building was begun. After ascertaining that the money was being spent correctly the Candadian Organization gave the other half of the budget, and a five-classroom school building was born.

The Early Days

During the early days, Actionnel attended seminary in Limbé and was ordained as a minister. From left over school building materials, they built a small cinder block church. A new and larger church building was erected and completed in 2001-2003. Major support was provided by First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, SMPC and First Baptist Church of Huntersville. It is also used for education classes during the week and for community meetings. The smaller church building houses classes as well.

They still are using the small school and church buildings as the mission continues to grow. The student body in the Fall of 2006 numbered 1,450 students with three kindergarten sections plus grades 1-13. In addition, the Professional Women’s School has 10 adults enrolled and there is an Adult School with 50 enrolled (for those who were unable to go to school as children). The school has 50 teachers and another 10 of other school staff. Over the years SMPC started and maintained a sponsorship program, funded a multipurpose building with 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, dining area and a large classroom. The building is used for retreats, mission work groups, and will be used for computer classes soon.

Two churches in Gastonia and Boone provided a large electrical generator since there is no power within miles of the Bayonnais. Engineers Without Borders added a solar power system to keep electricity costs as low as possible. EWB also is assisting OFCB and the community with a bridge over a nearby river. Internet via satellite was added in mid-2006.

Long range plan for a medical clinic

In 1999, OFCB dared to plan to bring medical treatment to Bayonnais. They sent a promising young man to medical school, and bought a piece of land on which eventually to build a clinic. That long-range plan will come to fruition in 2-3 years at the end of his medical education. At that time, they hope to build a clinic to give medical help, which is now only available some 17 miles away across mountain terrain.


The quality of the school can be judged from the substantially above average performance of students in the mandatory national exams at the end of 6th, 9th, 12th and 13th grades. In 2003, all nine of the first graduating classes were sent off to Haitian colleges. One of them will be the second doctor. Others will be agronomists, high school teachers and other vital functions.

In 2004, a local bank was started, and a small business loan facility began to help capital-poor single person businesses grow. It has been very successful.

Ten students from the 2005 high school graduating class joined those in college. Career intentions of these people include: teaching high school science, language and kindergarten, dentistry, nursing and lab technician. An assistant minister for the church is in seminary. All of the college students are under written contract to return and work for OFCB (15 years for the doctors, 10 years for all others).
(© 2007 SMPC)

This strong leadership, and vision of a better life for his community is evident through:

-Emphasizes education
-Creation of a community bank
-Proactively plans for the future

Community buy in
-Face to face community meetings
-Open door policy
-Shared sense of mission

Solve specific needs
-Inferior lighting
-Lack of clean power
-No enterprise or employment opportunities

Partnerships Are Essential

dissigno and OFCB Ministries have partnered together to bring the pedal technology into Bayonnais, Haiti. dissigno has focused on creating the partnerships needed for operational success. This includes the logistics, engaging private investment, and identifying the most suitable technology for the environment. OFCB Ministries represented by Actionnel Fleurisma has assumed responsibility in overseeing day-to-day operation of the battery charging and rental enterprise. In addition, OFCB ensures that performance is tracked and data presented to dissigno, which will in turn present to Eco Systems. By partnering with the community this plan encourages participation rather than exclusion in the enterprise, and thereby makes electrical power available to more community members. Some local residents wishing service, but unable to pay will be allowed to exchange labor for subscription in the form of sweat equity.

As part of operations, dissigno has hired local residents to act as operators. Charles Gasmy provides daily operations for the enterprise. He will also identify and engage ancillary enterprise development to build the operation and provide opportunities for other community members. This plan will start by providing battery/LED lighting to 50 families. This will have the benefit of proving the value of the model with a limited initial investment.

“Powerful” Solutions To Meet Rural Needs September 2007

When 60,000 poor people were asked what number one thing they wanted, they said technology and information, not food and charity. The lack of clear exchange between developing world customers and product developers has led to significant failures. Stakeholders can create significant impact for the biggest segment of world population - the poor, but this group is difficult to categorize or label. The poor cover a wide range of environments, economies, & cultures. Subsequently many of the poor are considered too poor, unsophisticated, and difficult by private investment wishing to produce enterprises through social ventures and are often overlooked. However, strong partnerships with in-country NGO’s, specific solutions for particular problems, localized value creation, and access to enabling services such as financial instruments and credit will bridge this gap. dissigno helps create enterprise models for new or existing basic needs technologies helping technology providers & end-users to communicate and mutually benefit. Developing world communities gain from access to tools and technology addressing basic needs. Buying power and wealth is created for low-wage earners whose lives improve through investment and enterprise opportunity. Partnerships and tech transfer will further ensure success through execution excellence. Stakeholders not only gain market growth, but also benefit from product design practices in a real world laboratory. These practices further support developing world entrepreneurs by fostering ancillary enterprise development and education surrounding the initial product. Fulfilling these basic needs is the key step towards poverty eradication.


Eco Systems and dissigno have teamed up for The Pedal Power Project. dissigno launched a pilot project, using Eco System technology, for 50 families in Bayonnais, Haiti in September 2007. Bayonnais is a community of 80,000 people without any electrical power. The Pedal Power Project created a valued product solution that is culturally sensitive, environmentally friendly, and economically sustainable. The pedal generator achieves this through an innovative technology that creates electricity through human power. Power is created through pedaling and stored in a 12-volt deep cycle battery, which in turn charges smaller 6-volt batteries (home units). The home units are then distributed with LED lights to members of the community on a rental program. An enterprise model for the charging station was executed with the technology to ensure sustainability. The technology and enterprise are owned by a partnership between OFCB Ministries, the community school and dissigno. It is being operated as a “for profit” enterprise. It provides distributed electrical power for community members, creates employment opportunities, and stimulates ancillary enterprises. dissigno’s pilot project provided installation of the infrastructure technology, service & maintenance, and enterprise support. Eco Systems provided operation training. dissigno will be assisting other community members in creating ancillary enterprises surrounding the initial product. This innovative service can scale and replicate easily with the addition of battery/LED units.