We spent the past few weeks in Haiti launching Pilot 1 of the IEEE/Sirona Haiti Rural Electricity Project. Six "Sunblazer" solar generators were shipped to Haiti and deployed to St. Etienne, St. Helen, Anse au Veaux, Dieuxieme Plaine, Jeremie and Marmelade. Each solar generator has the capability to re-charge 40 customer home-kits daily, making basic electricity in rural Haiti a reality for 240 homes.
We began the trip with an Operator/Field Tech training seminar in Grand Goave. The training went very well, a lot of questions were asked and answered. Our program is unique by design. By utilizing a franchise model we are able to provide long-term maintenance and repay investors over the long term. The concept was very clear to Operators in training when we were asked, "How long with the equipment last?" The correct answer is, "As long as you pay your lease". This surprised, and pleased, all at the seminar.
There is no capital investment required of Operators to run a franchise, they have only two mandatory requirements: Operators must sign a contract with Sirona the outlines their responsibilities with regard to the equipment and lease payments; and Operators must attend mandatory training sessions.
Unfortunately one group from the first six selected failed to meet these requirements. The Operator sent someone in his stead to sign the contract, and then sent others to attend the training. It is critical that everyone in Haiti, as well as potential US investors, understand that this Pilot is the first step to developing an economically sustainable for-profit Haitian company (Sirona Haiti), it is not the charitable project of a benevolent NGO. The difficult decision was made to take this unit and deploy it in St. Helen near Cayes with another group at the top of our ever-growing waiting list. The community who lost the unit was very disappointed but has requested that they remain on the waiting list for a future unit; the community in St. Helen's excitement about receiving a
unit so quickly cannot be overstated.
More than 20 people attended the training seminar, the Operators and Field Technicians as well as others interested in learning more about the project. The seminar was held in Grand Goave, and facilitated by the Sirona represented by myself and Paul Lacourciere, IEEE/CSI members Ray Larsen and John Lorts, Pastor Lexidan Edme and Alain Armand who are managing support of operations and entrepreneurial training in Haiti.