13 June, 2009

The Wonders Of The Internet

A few days ago, I mention I am on an oxygen-high. After months of research and communication with various people, I’ve figured out a wonderful green business idea for the rural communities I work with in various countries in Africa. It is not only the idea that is so fantastic, but how the idea evolved that is so remarkable. The serendipity and beauty of being able to form new business ideas with people all over the world through the Internet, makes me want to jump up and down with delight.

I’d like to write a few posts and take you on a journey about how the new green business idea formed. I won’t say at this point what the idea is because that would spoil the fun, so, if you only want to know that, you can skip the next two blog posts.

The journey starts off in California listening to Amy Smith’s talk on “Life Saving Design”. In this talk, she informs the illustrious TED audience: how fumes from indoor cooking fires kill more than 2 million children a year, how millions of women and children spend upwards of 2-4 hours daily searching for wood fuel, and how many countries are rapidly being deforested because of this practice.

Ms. Smith goes on to explain how she and a group of designers constructed a prototype Corn Cob Crusher that produces smokeless cooking briquettes from bio waste materials (principally sugar cane or corn cob waste).

So, I contact Sumit (India) of the above-mentioned design group and ask where I could get more information about the crusher. We have some people interested in opening up such clean fuel briquette-making businesses in Kimilili, Kenya. We are hoping to find someone in Kenya that can teach these business entrepreneurs how to build crushers.

Sumit introduces me to Joshua (Zambia), who is also in the crusher group. Since
Zambia isn’t Kenya, and Joshua obviously can’t just hop over to Kimiilili, I talk to a Nabuur friend (Toronto) and she suggests approaching another Nabuur friend, Misheck, in Zambia to see if he can help.

Simultaneously, I meet up with a graphic designer and book publisher friend of mine for a cup of tea (Germany) and she asks me all sorts of questions about the Corn Cob Crusher project. It becomes obvious during our talk that we what we need are instruction manuals explaining “How to make a Corn Cob Crusher” and “How to make cooking Briquettes with a Corn Cob Crusher”. She offers her assistance in the project.

Upon inquiry, Joshua and Misheck both prove willing to work with us in making these manuals. It will probably take a few months for us to get the script written and the monies together so they can buy the materials needed, but it is all looking rosy in that department.

These manuals will be published and made available in various formats (e.g. pdf, html, ppt, and mp4), so that any one wishing to build a crusher can do so.

The next post talks about how my original idea evolved from one of creating clean fuel briquette-making business start-ups to an idea including youth vocational business training and crusher manufacturing start-ups as well.

To be continued...


  1. How exciting! Can't wait to hear how it all turns out!

  2. Lia, I'm fascinated! Don't stop the story.