What does TecAp offer to the women microfranchisees?

-A business that is easily replicable by low income microfranchisees with little formal education
-A tested business that meets a market demand at prices her neighbors are willing to pay
-Guaranteed margin to the microfranchisees
-Assists the women to become credit worthy with an MFI so can later borrow for other purposes.
-Rapid growth in numbers of microfranchisees, each of which has her own territory.
-Income to the microfranchisor that will eventually have a sustainable business.

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TecAp: Supporting Women in Nicaragua to be Microfranchisees

The Institute for Development, Evaluation, Assistance and Solutions (IDEAS) is a non-profit that has become a microfranchisor. It created a microfranchise, TecAp, which is an innovative technology program to assist women in rural Nicaragua to become microfranchisees. This means that TecAp trains the women microfranchisees about solar energy and other appropriate technologies. It also provides to the microfranchisee products and gives her an exclusive geographical area in which to sell. The women can start earning within a week after she joins. For some women this is her first business. For others the new income provides an important complement to other sources of household income.

These rural women sell solar-powered products and promote larger roof-top solar systems and labor saving technologies to their neighbors. This has succeeded in improving their own incomes and their neighbors’ quality of life in their fair trade coffee cooperatives and surrounding communities.

For the women who live in areas covered by a cooperative, their participation in the TecAp microenterprise means that they may now become members of the coop. Women who do not have land that they cultivate themselves have typically been excluded but being economically active in the TecAp microfranchise makes them eligible to be voting members and obtain the coop’s benefits.

El Instituto para el Desarrollo, Evaluación, Asistencia y Soluciones (IDEAS) es una organización sin fines de lucro que se ha convertido en un microfranquiciador. Creó una microfranquicia, TecAp, que es un programa de tecnología innovadora para ayudar a las mujeres en zonas rurales de Nicaragua a convertirse en microfranquiciadas. Esto significa que TecAp capacita a las mujeres microfranquiciadas sobre la energía solar y otras tecnologías apropiadas. También proporciona los productos a las microfranquiciadas y les da un área geográfica exclusiva en la que vender. Las mujeres pueden comenzar a ganar dentro de una semana después de que ellas se unen. Para algunas mujeres este es su primer negocio. Para otras, los nuevos ingresos proporcionan un complemento importante de otras fuentes de ingresos de los hogares.

Estas mujeres rurales venden productos de energía solar y promueven los sistemas solares de techo más grandes y las tecnologías de ahorro de mano de obra para sus vecinos. Esto ha logrado mejorar sus ingresos y la calidad de vida de sus vecinos en sus cooperativas de café de comercio justo y las comunidades circundantes.

Para las mujeres que viven en áreas cubiertas por una cooperativa, su participación en la microempresa TecAp significa que ahora pueden convertirse en socias de la cooperativa. Por lo general, las mujeres que no tienen tierras que se cultivan han sido excluidas, pero ya que son económicamente activas en la microfranquicia TecAp, son elegibles para ser socias votantes y obtener los beneficios de la cooperativa.

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Youth to be trained to be Solar Technicians

IDEAS has received funds from the IEEE Foundation to train a set of “micro-technicians,” who are youth and women to be trained formally in how to diagnose the size, install & repair the solar roof-top systems. This will provide them new employment while providing a local repair person for the hundreds of systems that have been installed but not gotten repair because the technicians live in faraway cities.

The cooperatives are excited about youth being able to sell their services in a high tech field. This would be in contrast to so many youth that have had to migrate from the coffee communities. The coops are helping with the selection of the students.

While the students have classroom work to help them thoroughly understand solar energy and solar system problem solving, they also have practical installation and repair work as part of the course. This also will involve field trips to visit sites of solar installations.

TecAp will be able to use some of the trained youth to install solar systems that are sold by the women microfranchisees. As the system grows, there will be women microfranchisees selling a neighbor a roof-top system and a youth in her community having been trained to install it.

The course will be held in the second half of 2013. Please consider making a donation to IDEAS to provide the matching funds needed to assist with course costs.

IDEAS is planning to hold a similar course again next year.IDEAS ha recibido fondos de la Fundación IEEE para entrenar a un conjunto de “micro – técnicos,” que son los jóvenes y las mujeres para ser entrenados formalmente en cómo diagnosticar el tamaño, la instalación y la reparación de los sistemas solares de techo. Esto les proporcionará nuevos puestos de trabajo al tiempo que proporciona a un técnico local para los cientos de sistemas que se han instalado, pero que no han sido reparados porque los técnicos viven en ciudades lejanas.

Las cooperativas están entusiasmadas con la posibilidad de que los jóvenes puedan vender sus servicios en un campo de alta tecnología. Esto estaría en contraste con tantos jóvenes que han tenido que emigrar de las comunidades cafetaleras. Las cooperativas están ayudando con la selección de los estudiantes.

Mientras que los estudiantes tienen trabajo en el aula para ayudar a comprender a fondo la energía solar y los sistemas solares, también tienen instalación práctica y reparación como parte del curso. Esto también implicará viajes de campo para visitar los sitios de las instalaciones solares.

TecAp será capaz de utilizar algunos de los jóvenes capacitados para instalar sistemas solares que son vendidos por las microfranquiciadas mujeres. A medida que el sistema crece, habrá mujeres microfranquiciadas vendiendo sistemas solares de techo a los vecinos, y en su comunidad habrá un/a joven entrenado/a para instalarlo.

El curso se llevará a cabo en el segundo semestre de 2013. Por favor considere hacer una donación a IDEAS para proporcionar los fondos necesarios para ayudar con los costos de los cursos.

IDEAS tiene previsto celebrar un curso similar el próximo año.


Solar energy has been proven to greatly assist rural women and their families

High quality coffee is grown in the mountains, often far away from the national electrical grid. Low income women and their families who have bought solar systems found three major types of benefits. 1) Benefits to the family: Family health improves by replacing kerosene lamps that produce toxic pollution and soot in their house. It allows the family to study at night and makes household tasks and care of the sick easier. New electric appliances, like blenders, save labor and time. 2) It saves the family money each month on batteries, fuel & long trips to charge cell phones. These savings can be used for better nutrition. 3) Solar helps women generate money in their microenterprises. Women who have home-based grocery stores say that neighbors are attracted to their stores at night. Some may come in to watch a show on the new solar-powered TV and end up buying their food there. Solar energy can pump water for the house, animals and to irrigate crops. This allows women to diversify their sources of income. For the poor, saving money and increasing income create a higher quality of life and provide more choices.


IDEAS solves a financial problem so the poor can purchase roof-top systems

One of the biggest obstacles for a low income coffee producer to buy a roof-top solar system is obviously the cost. IDEAS partnership with the coffee cooperatives and fair trade coffee companies has allowed the farmers to obtain longer term financing with payments that are compatible with the coffee growing season. For example, Root Capital agreed to consider the coffee coops’ request for 3 year loans so the coops can drop the payment amount for roof-top solar systems. The first success of this system was 50 systems that were installed in July 2010. Root Capital lent for 3 years to the coop, which in turn has lent for 3 years to its members. TecAp has worked to repeat this with other fair trade coffee coops. IDEAS repeated its success with another international lender by assisting Oikocredit to make its first $100,000 loan to solar energy for farmers in the “Cooperativa 20 de Abril” in Nicaragua.

Thanks to Julia Manzerova for the photo of rooftop solar panels attached to this post.