TreeHugger Is WorldChanging

To celebrate their first anniversary of totally excellent, enlightened being, fellow bloggers WorldChanging invited guests to contribute brief articles on topics that are important to them. Treehugger added a piece about ApproTEC, a non-profit based in Africa bringing the way and means of progress and hope to the people via simple technology and business plans in order to create new jobs and new wealth. ::WorldChanging ApproTEC (short for Appropriate Technologies for Enterprise Creation), is a non-profit organization working out of Kenya that develops and markets new, low-cost technologies to serve local entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa. The group’s goal is to help establish highly-profitable small businesses, which in turn create new wealth, helping the poor to climb out of poverty.

The group operates in a series of organized steps. First, it identifies viable enterprises that can be established by local entrepreneurs with limited capital investments. Then ApproTEC designs and develops equipment and business plans required for those enterprises to succeed. Next, they ensure that the new equipment--which must be affordable, easy to operate, durable, and manually operated--can be mass-produced locally. ApproTEC then buys the equipment back from the manufacturers, helps people set up retail shops, promotes the technologies among locals, and educates them about how use and repair the new tools.

ApproTEC’s most popular device, the appropriately named Super-MoneyMaker, is a $75 foot-operated irrigation pump that allows farmers to drastically increase tillable area, allowing subsistence farmers to harvest surplus crops, which can then be sold at market. Several success stories have been logged, and one about an impoverished widow who was able to transform her horticulture business from a $93-a-season subsistence into a 5-person operation is particularly telling. With the 3400% profit she made with her Super-MoneyMaker, she was able to send her children to school, instead of into the fields.

ApproTEC’s plan is straightforward, but their work is hard. Thanks to their diligence, it’s starting to pay off. Since 1991, more than 33,000 MoneyMakers have been sold, generating more than $35 million and creating 16,000 new paid jobs. Subsistence farming in Eastern Africa will never allow the local population to get ahead. But ApproTEC’s ideas into action are indeed helping self-motivated private entrepreneurs manage small-scale enterprises—a highly effective way of developing and fortifying the local economy and quality of life.

Thank you WorldChanging! And Happy Birthday!