Living off the power grid makes everyday tasks a major challenge for those who reside in India´s rural villages. It affects everything-from how late shops can stay open to when kids can do their homework and whether a cell phone can get charged. In the state of Bihar, some 50,000 villagers have seen their lives change, thanks to a project that´sturning garbage into energy. Husk Power System is repurposing rice husks –a major source of waste in Bihar-as a clean, green, safe source of power. The firm has built 50 economical, efficient “husk reactors”: they burn the husks and capture and filter the gas, which is injected into an engine that drives an alternator, producing electricity. Some 200 villages have benefitted so far. And the planet has,too: when waste rice husks are simply left to rot, they release methane gas-a major contributor to global warming.
Charge of the Light Brigade, e.quinox
Ninety percent of Rwandans live off the grid, with no electricity to light their nights or easily charge their cellphones. While the government is working to power the country up, there´s little hope that the grid electricity will reachrural areas any time soon. But a group of British engineering students has devised a solution: a small hut with solar panels on its roof that’s connecting rural Rwandans to affordable, renewable power. The group, called e.quinox, has devised a solar-energy kiosk that acts as a battery-charging station, setting up its first one in the village of Kanka last year. Villagers make a small deposit totake a charged battery home and pay a modest fee to recharge it-about the same amount as they´d spend on kerosene. The e.quinox team has set up a system that lest it make sure the kiosk is kept in good working order, enlisting students from the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology to make any needed repairs.
Cyber Capital, MYC4
Socially responsible investment has been aroundfor decades, but the world´s small businesses–especially those in poor countries-often haven´t been players. A Copenhagen-based organization called MYC4 aims to change that. It´s connecting African businesses –from organic famers to fashion retailers-directly with investors through an innovative, online, peer-to-peer system. First, MYC4 uses on-the-ground microfinance institutions to make sure acompany´s credentials and business plan are sound. Once approved, the company posts a description of itself and the interest rate it´s willing to pay for the funds it requires on MIC4´s web site. MYC4 then holds an auction, bringing together multiple investors to fund the loan. In Denmark food retail giant FDB has partnered with MYC4 to get the word out about farmers in need of funds-assistingthose who want to help to make a connection with those in need.
Double Cooked, Jompy Stove
Contaminated drinking water is a killer, responsible for millions of deaths, as well as countless illnesses worldwide. Visit the massive Kibera shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya, and you can see the problem first-hand. Open sewers line the passageways, and running water is a rarity: a single tap may serveas many as 1,000 people. It´s no surprise, then, that waterbome illnesses plague Kibera´s residents. But now, an inexpensive gadget called the jompy is helping them to purify their water easily and safely. A coiled device created by Scottish inventor David Osborne, the Jompy sits on a small stove or over a fire and delivers boiling-hot, clean water in a matter of seconds. In addition, it allowsusers to simultaneously cook a meal on top of it-turning two jobs into one and saving time, energy and money in the process.
Growth Cycle, Bamboosero
Zambia is a desperately poor country, with an unemployment rate of over 50 percent. But one of its natural resources-bamboo-is being put innovative, sustainable use and helping to make a difference. Fifteen years ago, California...