Sirona's team hit the ground running in 2013. In Haiti all stations deployed for the USAID program have received all of the Ti Soley battery kits needed for each unit to support 83 homes. This grant activity is now complete and Sirona's new franchisees are working hard to create sustainable businesses with their equipment.
With regard to equipment, the IEEE is working with Sirona to resolve an issue with the original home kits that we deployed. Some customers have experienced problems with their portable battery kit holding a charge. The technical issue has been identified, and the IEEE team is working with Sirona on a retrofit campaign that will take place this spring. In the meantime new equipment procured by Sirona has been deployed to the charging stations so that they may continue to service customers without interruption.
The IEEE has been an incredible partner for Sirona, and while an issue like this is a new challenge, the fact that this organization has stood behind this program and stepped up for the retrofit speaks volumes with regard to their dedication to bring light to those without. Three new groups in Africa have been replicating this business model and we wish them well as they tackle the business management issues. Sirona is committed to give as much field experience as we have gained thus far to these new groups and empower them to succeed in Camaroon, South Sudan and Nigeria.
Sirona is in the final stages of securing a grant from the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to light 3,000 more homes in Haiti. This time, rather than using solar charging stations we will be lighting most homes by rechrging Ti Soley kits at end of grid "Energy Stores". We are evaluating sites for these stores now and undertaking market research to select the sites most likely to succeed. There will also be two solar stations deployed under this grant on the island of Ille le Vache. We look forward to beginning this work later this spring.
The Jatropha farming project is running well, over 250,000 trees have been planted and our farmers are eager for the first oil pressing and charcoal production that will occur in Port au Prince. The press was damaged during shipping and has now been repaired. We are ready to start making Jatropha oil for sale (to displace diesel fuel), and a form of alternative charcoal that burns cleaner than traditional charcoal. Pictured here are farmers I met with in December, 2012.
Finally, we are working to build both the Foundation and the Sirona Haiti business. We appreciate the donors who sent funding over the holidays and appreciate your continued support of our work. It is going to be an exciting year, and my goal is to keep this blog up to date so that you may follow our progress!