Welcome, welcome today to the new category of BlogEMIS, social entrepreneurship! What? You have never heard this term? Don’t worry. Nobody was born knowing it, and that’s precisely why you should keep on reading this. Social entrepreneurship is defined as… you thought I was going to give a dictionary definition? No! We can figure out the meaning of this term by the words which make it up. Entrepreneurship happens when a person tackles a problem or need that exists in society, solves it, and turns it into a successful business. Hence, social entrepreneurship happens when a business is created on the premise of solving society’s problems and aiding in the human development of people while being profitable (or sometimes not).

We are all familiar with the terms of capitalism and communism. Each of them have at their very core one premise: to make a better and more efficient society. Of course, they each have their flaws and cannot be fully applied everywhere. This is where social entrepreneurship comes in! Detect a social problem, find an awesome way to solve it (using creativity to innovate), and BOOM, social entrepreneurship is born. This term is in fact being used all around the world by entrepreneurs that aren’t any longer satisfied with the goal of only making profit. Social entrepreneurship is carried out by people like you and me, who most likely want to make an impact on their surroundings by taking action (and not complaining on Facebook).

In reality, the poorest parts of our societies are being left out of this whole era that we are entering, the era of knowledge and information. How? Well, this is a question that entertains many other questions and many answers. One of the main reasons is that poor families and communities do not have electricity. Let that sink in for a second. No electricity means no fridge, no light to study at night, no WiFi, no modern ways of communication. Being deprived from electricity makes people deprived from the wonders that our world has to offer today.

There is one native community in Peru, Nuevo Saposoa, that is currently facing this electricity deprivation. You can only access this community by rivers, and the nearest city is five hours away. In March 2015 there was a flood that damaged the cables that carry electricity, leaving this population without electricity. Kerosene lamps were being used by students to study, however the air from those lamps hurts your lungs and the environment, and the pockets of the people. There was a problem.

The solution? Creativity and wit in action. Engineers from the UTEC (University of Engineering and Technology) came up with a solution that brought light to the families in this community without the need of any connected grid. What did it use? Plants. Believe it or not, these guys were able to get energy from plants. By what I understood (beware, I am not so much into science, though I love it) the nutrients that plants generated entered contact with microorganisms from the soil. These nutrients got oxidized, and consequently generated free electrons that can and are captured by electrodes. These electrodes connect to a grid that feeds a battery during the day, and at night… LIGHT!

Why is this an awesome example of great social entrepreneurship? First of all, and probably obviously, it covers the definition of what social entrepreneurship is. But what makes this special is that science was used in order to make a social impact. Usually, we don’t notice the connection between science and social issues, but they are definitely intertwined and one influences the other. Also, this Green Option (Literally) is not only sustainable, but auto-sustainable. This means that the Plant Lamp (Yes I almost forget to mention the name of this) will be able to function for a long amount of time with relatively no input of energy or other things. It works itself out! Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about this project is the fact that the science team used what was most available for them: plants.
Of course, this project specifically might not be very effective in the long term. However, every minute without electricity is a lost opportunity to connect with technology, humanity and knowledge; the short term must also be taken into account. This is a true example of how science, humans, creativity and entrepreneurship can be mixed in order to change the world (even if it’s bit by bit).

 

What do you think is awesome about this project?  If you have time, which you do you procrastinator, comment your opinion about this, and if you know about other projects like this, let us know!

Here is a Youtube video in English about this project:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOFRmR6MM1o

You can also read more about it here:

http://www.utec.edu.pe/ingenio-en-accion/plantalamparas-plantas-que-dan-luz

Written by Jose Morales

Edited by Maria Tirnovanu

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