by Lindsay Saperstone, International Communications Coordinator
The real world can be an intimidating place. By the real world, I mean the world outside of being a student, a global traveler and serial volunteer – identities I have embraced over the past few years as I made deliberate decisions to spend my time doing what makes me happy and what gives me a sense of purpose. Now, at 28 years old and a master’s degree in hand, I am making my way into the so-called real world of gainful employment. For me, having a full-time job is not the intimidating part, I have had many jobs before. Nor is it giving up on my passions for learning, traveling and volunteering. The intimidating part is holding on to that passion in the job force, it is fighting the competitive job market to do something, well, that matters.
As the newest addition to Trees, Water & People (TWP), I consider myself lucky to have landed in an organization that does do work that matters. For 15 years, TWP has been tackling the interconnected cycle of environmental degradation and energy poverty both in Central America and on tribal lands in the U.S. They not only do it well and create serious positive impact but they do so, to quote one of my graduate professors, “with soul.” There is a lot of passion here in this organization and I believe that is almost as important as the work they do. The team works hard because they know that at the end of the day, they are making a difference and I am proud to be part of it!
Passion for a business venture that meets the triple bottom-line – people, planet, and profit – is what really drives a team of students at the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA Program at Colorado State University. Working with Trees, Water & People, the group of four students are helping to develop Luciérnaga,a social enterprise that commercially distributes solar lighting products through networks of community-based organizations (CBOs) and agricultural cooperatives in Honduras.
Luciérnaga (“firefly” in Spanish) has a strong sustainable mission: “use an extensive network of agricultural cooperatives to provide 2.2 million Honduran families without electricity access to affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly solar lights that can be used for educational, household, and economic gains.”
This summer, the GSSE team will be traveling to Honduras to conduct in-depth research on Luciérnaga’s business operations such as the supply chain distribution, cooperative functionality, and customer service. They will use the information learned in the field to close Luciérnaga’s business gaps and increase scalability in Honduras and throughout other countries in Central America.
The diverse GSSE team, composed of Alicia Prusinksi, Magaly Mori, Kevin Rodriguez, and Trang Tran (pictured below from left to right), is currently fundraising for their trip by participating in a business competition, pitching to social and sustainable businesses, and crowdfunding.
Check out their website, meet their team, and consider funding their project. Remember that with one good deed YOU can make a change in the world!
As part of his fellowship with the Center for Collaborative Conservation, International Director Sebastian Africano is working with our partners in Haiti to help local farmers develop more sustainable sources of income by adding diverse, agro-forestry plantations to their current farming practices. This will reduce their reliance on charcoal production and restore forest cover on Haitian landscapes, a country with only 2 percent of natural forest remaining. This proof of concept project will set the stage for a model that can be widely replicated for the purpose of recovering and rehabilitating Haiti’s natural resources while developing sustainable livelihoods for rural smallholders throughout the country.