Sustainable Micro-Enterprise Development and Management

Ithaca College, 2006 - $40,415

Ithaca College is partnering with Ecuadorian NGO Fundacion Maquipucuna (FM), an established organization that sells a range of fair trade, organic products in the US and elsewhere under the brand name Choco-Andese. The partnership is meant to develop micro-enterprises in Ecuador based around poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. The projects will build on the ideas of students who participated in a previous course and includes innovations such as an inexpensive plastic thatch for roofing.

Summer 2009 update: In 2007 this team designed 3 machines for processes relating to plastic thatch and bio-diesel production and worked out a complete process for converting plastic waste into very low-cost roofing solutions. By 2008 they had a machine that stripped plastic off bottles, designed a binding machine for plastic thatch and built a bio-diesel production facility. The team also started working on short-term projects such as designing and selling tours in Ecuador for eco-tourists; selling carbon-friendly picture frames; and leading coffee and chocolate tours. By the end of 2008 this team had a plastic roof thatching process in the application state of patenting, created a working bio-diesel reactor and operations manual, laid the ground work for expanded "edu"-tourism programs in Ecuador and developed and named sustainable products related to eco-tourism. They are also collaborating with another NCIIA program at Rutgers University to conduct bio-exploration in Ecuador. Follow on funding from NCIIA was given to support PlastEco, a low-cost thatch-roofing product made from discarded plastic bottles.