Around this time last year, Community Water Solutions announced the kick-off of their Social Enterprise Competition at their annual benefit; an opportunity to bring new and innovative solutions to rural communities in Ghana and to expand the CWS model and brand to more than clean water.
After interactive workshops and valuable mentorship sessions, Ben Powell and Mark Moeremans decided to team up, bringing together a diverse set of skills and knowledge. And while there are a plethora of challenges and opportunities facing the people of Northern Ghana, the duo decided they could make a difference in the region’s lack of electric power, which results in poor health, limited education, decreased productivity, and traps the region’s people in poverty.
The team – also known as InnovaSun, proposed an entrepreneurial solar power business that leverages several of the ideas of CWS’s successful water business model – providing demand to a community in the form of rechargeable lanterns and charging individuals to recharge their appliances. The team went on to win the competition and the $10,000 prize as seed money to turn their idea into reality.
Since then, Ben and Mark have worked diligently to refine their project plan, test solar equipment, find local vendors in Ghana, develop contingency plans, and coordinate with the CWS ground team to ensure their success. Now with just one month before their departure, the team is finalizing their strategy and beginning to order the solar equipment that will hopefully bring electricity to a region that is almost entirely “off the grid.”
Ben and Mark will be arriving back in Ghana in late October – a year after presenting their social enterprise to a panel of judges. They will spend three weeks setting up a solar power business, training a new group of female entrepreneurs, and monitoring their progress / success in hopes of expanding their model in the future. Stay tuned to hear how their project goes, and who knows, maybe you’ll see an application for the InnovaSun project on the CWS page in the future!