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    Posted February 20, 2013 by
    MNGuatemala
    Location
    Guatemala City, Guatemala
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Impact Your World

    'Light strike' - Solar Company CEO locks himself in the dark - won't see light until project is funded

     

    Guatemala City, Guatemala - Juan Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Guatemalan solar power company 'Quetsol' is attempting to crowd-fund its revolutionary new 'Pay-as-you-Go' affordable solar energy kit by sitting in a completely-darkened room until the $50,000 goal is met.

     

    Without windows and without a single light bulb, Juan has been sitting in the pitch-black room since beginning his campaign on Monday, February 18th. For those that don't believe it, you can watch him on a 'Livestream' linked through the fundraising site.

     

    Quetsol-Turn Lives On across Guatemala

     

    He does however, provide himself a luxury that approximately 2.6 million Guatemalans living without any access to electricity can't. He schedules a few hours a day of screen time on his laptop to interact with viewers of his Livestream and to raise awareness through a slew of social media.

     

    Quetsol already designs, manufactures and installs small low-cost kits (to power a few light bulbs and small appliances) as well as larger traditional off-the grid systems that can support farm operations.

     

    The small kits have been sold to families in areas of Guatemala that are so remote that the electric grid will never reach them. Families in these villages otherwise rely on candles and kerosene to live after the sun goes down. Since most children help out with farming chores after school, they are left with no choice but to do homework by candle light. What's more, many of these households rely on a single pre-paid cellphone as their only link to the rest of society, and are forced to make long treks to neighboring towns just to charge them.

     

    Although Quetsol's small kits may be affordable to an average American family, the Guatemalan village families rely on bank micro-loans to finance their life-changing kits. Unfortunately, the banks process only about half of the loan applications, leaving a large number of households in the dark.

     

    According to the fundraising website, the $50,000 will support the final R&D stages and initial manufacturing order of a new 'Pay-as-you-Go' kit which allows families to buy only as much energy as they need through an SMS text messaging code system. The system eliminates the need for the slow bank loan processing. Instead, as families buy more hours, they pay off their kit.

     

    Quetsol offers various 'Perks' in exchange for different donation levels ranging from a personal thank-you note from Mr. Rodriguez, to a lodging and transportation-paid trip to a village to help install a kit.

     

    Whether you believe in the cause or not... the prospect of watching a company CEO doing Yoga in a dark room is sure to turn some heads.

     

    Find Quetsol on Facebook

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