Morning Link Drop 103008

Links I want to share, but don’t have time to write full blog posts on. So much work, so little time.

After the hurricanes: AIDG-Haiti performing sugarcane charcoal trainings and deploying picohydro

Cap Haitien. 9/2/08

Flooding in Cap Haitien [9.2.08]. Cap Haitien was relatively lucky compared to cities like Gonaives, Hinche and Cabaret which experienced devastating flooding.

In Haiti, the floodwaters from September’s onslaught of hurricanes are subsiding. People are trying to get their lives back on their feet, but progress and reconstruction are unbearably slow. In addition to work we’ve been doing to get a municipal biogas plant set up in Cap Haitien, we’re doing several smaller projects to help communities meet some of their most pressing energy needs.

While Gonaïves, Hinche and Cabaret experienced the most extensive flooding during the recent spate of devastating hurricanes to hit Haiti, the entire nation was affected. Cap Haitien and many towns in Northern Haiti were completely cut off from the capital, the primary source of essential items like gasoline. During this period, the cost of a gallon of gas sky-rocketed to $20. Charcoal supplies within Cap were also low and the city was suffering from a power outage that lasted several weeks.

Sugarcane charcoal training

To help people cope, AIDG Haiti is putting on several sugarcane charcoal trainings to show families how to make a charcoal alternative from readily available agricultural waste. The methodology was developed by Amy Smith’s D-Lab at MIT and we’ve talked it a lot on this blog here, here, and here.

An early training session in the countryside with Roudelin Augustin and Isnido Elvariste
An early training session in the countryside with Roudelin Augustin and Isnido Elvariste

Moment of truth

Pico-hydroelectric cell phone charging stations

While much disaster assistance is coming into Haiti from governments and NGOs, remittances and cash from family and friends make up a large share of how families are dealing. Cell phone access, thus, provides a lifeline for families affected by these horrible storms.

Pico-hydroelectric system in a 5-gallon bucket

We’re planning to deploy 5 pico-hydroelectric systems to Haiti that can be used to charge cell phones and other small appliances. Our main target community is Borgne, a rural village near Cap Haitien which sustained heavy flooding, but is receiving little aid.

We are also looking into whether these units can be used to power UV water treatment. The success of that arm will depend on a lot of factors, but I’ll keep you guys in the loop.

We’ve budgeted $5000 to cover the cost of materials, transport and travel, but the project could end up costing us a lot more given how volatile the cost of goods are these days. Watch this space.

Related posts:
Rough Guide: How to make sugar-cane charcoal
Sam Redfield on Pico-hydro at La Florida
Borgne Identity: Looking Through Their Eyes
Haiti hurricane update from our staff on the ground

Job: D-Rev (Design for the Other 90%) is Hiring an Administrative Project Manager

D-Rev (Design for the Other 90%)

In 2007, Paul Polak founded D-Rev “to create a design revolution by enlisting the best designers in the world to develop products and ideas that will benefit the 90% of the people on earth who are poor, in order to help them earn their way out of poverty.” D-Rev seeks to do this by inspiring, educating, and connecting all of the people who are involved in the design process, from the inception to the purchase and use of products.

Please send a resume and cover letter to Stephanie Fry at stephanie {at] d-rev [dot} com. NO PHONE CALLS PLEASE!

Salary is $32,000 plus a great benefits package.

Here’s a pretty basic list of job duties:

Event Coordination

Book Events
• Contact conference coordinators, universities, Paul’s colleagues
• Pitch Paul Polak speaking event
• Negotiate fees
• Maintain Events Calendar

Advancing events
• Send out flyers/postcards to event coordinator for promotion
• Send out press releases to the event’s local media
• Maintain contact with Event Coordinator
• Make sure travel arrangements have been made
• Make sure event details are included in marketing / pr / communications outlets

Communications Coordination

Website Maintenance (
• Update Events Page with all event details in existing format
• Update Media Page with media logo, pull quote, date and link to article
• Make sure front page is updated on a weekly basis (newsflashes, tour dates, etc)
• Use Adobe Contribute software
Website Maintenance (
• Make sure all content is accurate and in line with 501c3 rules
• Use Adobe Contribute software
• Post all events, press releases and news on this site
• Post videos of work and share with others interested in similar work on youtube
Newsletters / Constant Contact
• is the site we use for newsletters
• Send out newsletter once/month
Paul Polak update
• This is a personal email that goes out once per month
• You’ll need an event summary, attaching the Events Calendar
• Recent media attention
• Recent efforts to market the book
• Any other news
• Software is Vegas Pro 8, on media computer at office
• Keep video media files
• Edit video footage to post on facebook, youtube, and
• Make videos as necessary for proposals
Media Relations
• Send out press releases
• Work with local/national media
• Research journalists
• Research media outlet

Office Management

Make sure office is set up
• Phones
• Internet
• Hardware and software
• Lease agreements
• Order supplies
• Keep files
Manage HR Outsourcing
• Payroll
• Health Benefits
• Dental
• 401k
• Workers Comp

Development Support

• Creating skeletons for proposals
• Gathering information from staff to put into proper format for funder
• Creating budgets
• Sending thank you letters and reports to funders
• Proofreading and putting proposals into final format
• Facilitating connections
• Giving people information on how they can help financially
• Sending information on the organization to people Paul will be meeting with
• Setting up meetings

Personal Assistant

Manage Outlook / Email of Founder
• Check accounts daily
• Mange Calendar and Emails
Schedule / travel packets
• Maintain Founder’s schedule
• Communication with family and friends about travel arrangements
• Book travel plans
• Book meetings

Friday Shoutouts 102408: An Architect of the Future and a Breakthrough Leader

Okay maybe this will be a regular feature after all. 🙂

Peter Haas, Executive Director, all spruced up and in Dirty Jobs mode
Peter Haas, Executive Director, all spruced up and in Dirty Jobs mode shoveling pig waste at a biodigester site in Guatemala

1. AIDG Executive Director, Peter Haas was named an Architect of the Future by the Waldzell Institute. The prestigious Austrian Institute honors young visionaries who work to realize a better world.

AIDG uses market mechanisms to get green technologies to people earning less than four US Dollars a day. AIDG combines product design, small enterprise incubation, and traditional outreach projects as a means to train the next generation of infrastructure service providers for poor communities.

AIDG provides their enterprises with $10,000-$100,000 in loans, training in technical and business skills, and access to engineering talent from top international universities. We also contract these SMEs to do a few traditional aid outreach projects as training and help them build a clientele among local villages and foreign NGOs.

A pilot enterprise, XelaTeco, in Guatemala is on track to earn $250,000 off a $55,000 loan from AIDG, installing hydroelectric, solar, biodiesel and stove systems in rural communities. To date XelaTeco has electrified four Guatemalan communities and provided renewable energy to a few thousand individuals. Currently, AIDG is in the process of securing funding partners to incubate 10 other enterprises like XelaTeco in Guatemala and Haiti over the next few years.

An interesting fact, you may not know about Pete:

Before founding AIDG, he worked both in the information technology field as a consultant in network topology and wireless and on a sustainable organic farm doing infrastructure improvement work.

Amy Smith and Shawn Frayne in Cap Haitien doing a sugarcane charcoal training in 2006
Amy Smith and Shawn Frayne in Cap Haitien doing a sugarcane charcoal training in 2006. More pics from that training session.

2. Appropriate design innovator Amy B. Smith (member of our advisory board) just won Popular Mechanics’ Leadership Award for 2008. One of her former students, Shawn Frayne won a Breakthrough Award from them last year.
Duration: 8 min 10 sec

See Amy’s award acceptance speech [Popular Mechanics]
Video: Prof. Amy Smith on recent D-lab trip to Peru

Related posts:
Friday Shoutouts 10102008: SOIL/Rosemond Jolissaint and Heather Fleming
Video: Prof. Amy Smith on recent D-lab trip to Peru
What’s it like to live on $2 a day? [Class Assignment]
Audio: Peter Haas, AIDG’s ED interviewed on The New Entrepreneurs
The Reasoning Behind AIDG

Staff Highlights: Steve Lee moves from uber-intern to our logistics maven

We’re very proud to announce that our uber-intern Stephen Lee has joined the AIDG team as our Project and Operations Manager. Steve began working with us in Guatemala as part of his Master’s work in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University.

Duration: 1 min 4 sec

Here, Steve talks about his intern project and his work setting up our network and IT infrastructure in our Boston, Guatemala and Haiti offices.

More recently, Steve has completely revolutionized our ability to collaborate with external design partners/clients. He created a real-time communication framework for relaying field data collection in Guatemala to a client in Hong Kong [Humdinger Wind Energy]. He slashed our labor burden on that data collection saving us at minimum 500 man-hours over the course of this year and more realistically a few thousand man-hours. He is one of the big reasons why we can do so much with so little cash.

Yeah, he walks on water.

Steve Lee His more official bio:
Stephen obtained a Masters Degree in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University in 2008. His masters project was a study of collaborative and participatory relationships in the design, dissemination, and evaluation of appropriate technologies in rural communities. Stephen has worked extensively in the nonprofit and NGO sector, most recently as a project lead for TechSoup, helping to build a global platform for technology donations. Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, he has also served as a volunteer for Forum Bangun Aceh, an Indonesian community-based organization helping affected communities through microenterprise and education projects. Stephen has a B.S. in Computer Science from Northwestern University.