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Takeda Workshop

posted Nov 5, 2012, 10:40 PM by William Hong

(2012 - October 18)

Blogger: William
Journey: Japan, Takeda Workshop

Just 2 weeks after graduation, I was back in Japan again. I was invited by Prof.Abe to present our Lamps for Rent project to a workshop sponsored by the Takeda Foundation, entitled: International Symposium on Ecosystems for Regional Innovation in Asia (http://www.takeda-foundation.jp/en2/asia/sy04_posters.html

In this session, we were able to share our ruralenergy.org works with a panel of professors, industry experts, and organizational leaders from different countries – Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, USA, and more. The main topics revolved on how to inspire more regional innovation in the neighboring countries of Asia – through flexible collaboration. In this session I learned quite interesting thoughts: A) The RES industry is very competitive and unlike the BPO and IT business – RES requires huge capital investments. Therefore, it is advisable to learn and affiliate with big companies first before flying off on your own. B) Commercial is defined as a business without governmental subsidy. Given that, RE is still non-commercial and will take 15 to 20 or more so years to reach commercial levels. Let the technology makers and researchers do their share to bring it home. C) Bring medicine each time you travel. I got into a fever during the session and that was not so pleasant. This lesson is perhaps more important than the first two.

I was overall quite happy with the experience. I met some individuals worth mentioning here. OMRomny from Cambodia, Jun Belizario from UP, Seetharam from ADB (charter cities), Jin Wakabayashi of JICA, Jamilu Choudhury of Bangladesh, and Yoshio Matsumi of Itochu were all respectable individuals that shared much of their thoughts with me – Thank you guys.

 In this session, I felt very much a young and promising social entrepreneur. As the young challenge the old, the old encourage the young. Thank you seniors for inspiring us to try harder to make ruralenergy.org succeed! Thank you Takeda Foundation for the opportunity to partake in regional collaboration. 

Until the next workshop,

William Hong

Here, by the way, is an abstract of our presentation:

The Lamps4Rent Project is a rural lighting project based on community participation and entrepreneurial approach. This project provides rechargeable LED lamps to a community in an off-grid rural island in the Philippines (Pangan-an Island, Cebu). Currently, the community uses electricity from a solar power plant, which has decreasing efficiency. The electricity supply is no longer enough to provide light at night; hence a secondary storage of power, i.e. LED rechargeable lamps, can provide the needed power come nightfall.  While utilizing the existing solar plant, the project creates an affordable and sustainable lamps supply service by applying a daily lamp rental system. The project has been in operation for 1 year and continues to increase in service coverage.

The project is a flagship project of ruralenergy.org in cooperation with Abe Research Group - Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the Pangan-an Island Cooperative for Community Development (PICCD).  The project was awarded the prize fund from the International Center for Social Entrepreneurship (ICSE) business plan competition in 2010. With the support of the above-mentioned groups, the Lamps4Rent project emerged from its trial to full operations stage in a span of one year.  Since September 2011, the project has provided 20 to 25 lamps per day to households and has provided employment for 3 operators from the community. The social and economic impacts of the project were found promising to merit expanding and bringing the project to other rural islands in the Philippines.

Pursuing this social venture has been a product of a variety of key ingredients: network, knowhow, creativity, and willingness. Having the network of people and organizations is essential in bridging ideas to reality. Entrepreneurs must have the skills to connect the pieces of the puzzle including ideas, people, and resources. Knowhow is an ingredient that determines success. It is knowhow that enables one to solve existing problems and boundaries that make the social problem evident in the first place. Creativity is what distinguishes a good idea from a great idea. Creativity can be applied in the broad sense of your project or in the little details that make the project effective to achieve the objective. Willingness is the final ingredient that places all things together. The entrepreneur and the people involved in the project must share the sprit and willingness to pursue the goal. The project proponents ought to have a deep sense of responsibility and desire to address a social problem in order to address it properly. With these ingredients in place, a social venture will have a better chance of succeeding.

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