The idea for Bio-gas as a sanitation solution for emerging markets is not a new one, but my own interest in making this potential solution a reality developed after I returned from a Kaya medical and educational volunteering trip in Jaipur, India.
I spent two weeks in India teaching in schools and assisting Spanish medical volunteers in the slums. Each team consisted of two Spanish medical workers, medical assistance volunteers, and a translator. The medical workers would give diagnoses and prescribe medication. Assistants such as myself cleaned wounds, distributing medicine and administering blood sugar and pregnancy tests. I also functioned as a translator between the Spanish medical workers and our English speaking English speaking translator. In the afternoons we taught in schools instructing young Indian children in basic English, math, and geography.
Along with the breathtaking culture of India’s sweet gulab jamun, spicy paneer and ancient temples, came a sobering education in its devastating poverty. The access to basic medical care, clean water for bathing or drinking, and sanitation that we take from granted in the US is a scarcity in India. India’s medical and education are both understaffed and heavily stressed by overpopulation. My time in Jaipur left me with the question of how I might be able to make a difference and be of service to community in more ways than volunteering.
While talking with a teacher at Westtown about ideas for a Design & Engineering project I was introduced to Bio-gas. At the time I was focused on generating ideas for the project – but it also struck me that Bio-gas would have huge potential in addressing the scarcity of sanitation solutions in India.
The idea of distributing this solution via conscious capitalism came into play after I was introduced to a company called Husk Power in my Business & Society Class. Husk Power Systems describes themselves as a “Rural empowerment enterprise.” Husk Power distributes mini-power plants which utilize rice husks, a common agricultural waste in India, as a power source. These power plants “enable businesses to stay open after dark and children to study at night.” After discovering Husk power, I thought – why not do something similar, but with Bio-gas? Thus the idea for my socially responsible business was born.
I am designing a business that empowers rural Indian communities by providing them with affordable sanitation solutions through Bio-gas generator power plants. Bio-gas generators convert human manure into methane, which can be used to power stoves and generate electricity. The company will source materials locally and hire local Indian workers. Over half of India’s 1.26 billion people do not have access to toilets, and bio-gas serves as a waste treatment solution. Bio-gas generators also lower greenhouse gas emissions and neutralize manure, producing viable fertilizer.
I will be networking with impact investors, NGOs and factories in India, socially responsible businesses, and Bio-gas companies inform the creation of my company, assess as its viability and explore avenues for funding. The final product of the independent class will be a ready to launch, B-Corp certifiable business that could empower rural Indian communities by providing them with affordable sources of sanitation, energy, and income.
Husk Power Systems. “Home.” Home : Husk Power Systems. Husk Power Systems, 2015. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <http://www.huskpowersystems.com/index.php?pageT=Home&page_id=1>.
Shivakumar, Girija. “Half of India’s Population Still Defecates in the Open.” The Hindu. The Hindu, 19 Nov. 2013. Web. 27 Nov. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thehindu.com%2Fsci-tech%2Fhealth%2Fpolicy-and-issues%2Fhalf-of-indias-population-still-defecates-in-the-open%2Farticle5367467.ece>.