by Sebastian Africano, International Director
In the months that followed the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a flurry of support and interest from our Colorado community led to a promising call from Joe Basta, managing partner of a successful Fort Collins company, Rodelle Vanilla. Joe explained that his supplier of vanilla beans from Uganda, UVAN Ltd, bought his stock at above-market prices from a network of 9,000 vanilla farmers throughout the country, and that UVAN had launched a series of social programs to thank them for their loyalty. Through these programs, farmers in UVAN’s network gained access to mosquito netting, HIV/AIDS awareness and counseling, rural savings and loan programs, and trees for local reforestation. The missing link, explained Joe, was to provide these farmers and their families with a cleaner, more efficient way to cook.
During an exploratory trip to Uganda in early 2011 with Joe and his business partner Dan Berlin, I had the opportunity to visit UVAN’s vast network of farming communities, where vanilla harvests ensure a twice yearly boon in an otherwise uncertain rural existence. Homes were simple, people were extremely humble, and the challenge was presented: Could Trees, Water & People (TWP) implement a cookstove program that would help these families reduce their daily exposure to smoke and reduce the rate at which they consume firewood? The result was the Rodelle Rocket stove – a double-burner household cookstove that replaces two open fires at once, and which is currently being tested in communities throughout UVAN’s supply network.
This project serves as a great example of how private businesses and nonprofit organizations can partner to make real and lasting impacts around the world. For more information about TWP’s Corporate Partners Program, contact Megan Maiolo-Heath, Marketing & Communications Manager, at email@example.com.