The Solutions Fund is the international grant-giving branch of IDEAS for Us. We receive applications from leaders and local organizations in communities all around the world – many of them furthest from sustainable development. By choosing the projects with the most impact and suggesting minor adjustments based on expertise, our team then funds these projects and tracks their impact over time. The IDEAS’ Solutions Fund mission is to invest in hyper-local solutions which are sustainable and can scale. These ideas come from the communities themselves, and our partnership with them helps these communities improve their own circumstance: creating change from the bottom-up.
This cycle’s Solutions Fund Winners are a group of amazing change-makers and community leaders. We’re so pleased to introduce them!
Reusable Sanitary Menstrual Pads for at-risk Girls in Malawi – 30 Schools in Malawi
Girl’s Pride is a project by a Malawi-local change-maker Gloria Walusa who is creating a program to keep impoverished Malawi girls in school by distributing reusable, sanitary menstrual cotton pads, teaching feminine hygiene, and building sanitary bathrooms in schools where there are none. Reusable sanitary menstrual pads in Malawi can cost between $0.85 – $1.30 US dollars, which is unaffordable for families living under $1 per day. Some girls will use dried leaves, plastic bags, paper, or rags to soak up blood as an alternative, but other girls will either stay home and miss school during menstruation, or even drop out from shame if they stain their uniforms. To keep girls in school, Gloria is putting together a team of volunteers to sew enough pads to donate 14 reusable pads (which can last 3-5yrs) to each post-pubescent girl in 20 primary schools and 10 secondary schools in Blantyre district, Malawi, as well as building school bathrooms, teaching hygiene, and teaching sewing so she can recruit recipients of the pads to help create more pads for other girls in other schools. Girls shouldn’t drop out of school because they do not have hygienic facilities or feminine care, and especially not because of shame.
Opening a High School for kids in need in Togo – 200+ students in Togo
In a region in Boude Koufoulmdè, Tchaoudjo, Togo, children do not have a nearby high-school to continue their education. Many of them are therefore diverted to work in the local charcoal manufacturing and distribution industry at a young age. While the Togo Branch of Earth Guardians, (previous Solutions Fund winners), were planting trees in this locality, the parents of these children asked for help: the construction of an official government school could be completed if material costs could be fundraised. With a Solutions Fund grant, this high school will be built and the children of this region can obtain valuable and more earth-friendly vocational skills as well as an education about climate change mitigation and resiliency as a part of their curriculum.
Ceramic Water Filter Installations For Schools in Impoverished Ugandan Region – 1000 students in Uganda
IDEAS For Makerere/Uganda is teaming up with SPOUTS to install ceramic water filters in two impoverished schools in the Wakiso District of Uganda, with a plan to keep them working sustainably so they can provide clean water to students year after year. This project isn’t just to provide clean water and help defend against waterborne illnesses, but also to teach WASH programs to change students’ habits and improve overall hygiene.
Computer Training Program for Women & Girls – 200 women in Kirkuk, Iraq
Access to the internet, digital literacy, and proficiency with software can be a game-changer in someone’s life, this project aims to change 200 lives. Executed by the Pana Centre (a center committed to women’s rights) in Kikuk, Iraq, this job-training program will provide basic and technical computer training for 200 women and girls. This program is meant to empower women and increase their access to technology, enhance women’s participation in economic growth and increase women’s independence economically.
Cookstove Insert To Reduce Wood Consumption & Respiratory Illness – 100 households in Saglemi, Ghana
Cookstoves have become a symbol for the top-down approach that doesn’t have the community buy-in to be a successful sustainability solution in the sustainability movement. The failure of adoption is not likely for this proven project, however, because this locally-made simple stainless steel insert does not compromise the traditional way of cooking in this area and has already demonstrated success in surrounding communities. Carried out by the Abibiman Foundation, which has already studied the adoption and effectiveness of these inserts, this is a subtle addition to the traditional cookstoves in the village of Saglemi, Ghana which can curb exposure to indoor air pollution from cooking, lessen rates of related respiratory illness over time (lessen coughing by 89%), reduce the number of surrounding trees destroyed for firewood (lessen by 3.2kg of firewood per person per day), and increase efficiency in cooking (by 24.55%) without compromising cultural norms. The lifespan of this simple insert is 7.12 yrs and will be distributed for free after intense sensitization to encourage high rates of adoption.
First Rural Makerspace In Nigeria to Teach Programming and Digital Literacy – 5 schools in Nigeria
Inspired Nigerian Maker Damilola Fasoranti has opened the first rural Nigerian makerspace (a center for learning technical, digital, and artistic skills), and with a Solutions Fund grant he will be able to outfit the building with tools to provide hands-on educational programs for the kids of 5 nearby schools. His program “Trash to Toys” is designed to empower kids with the attitude and skills to know that they can change the world around them. They will learn Arduino programming, sewing and crafting, and some kids will be introduced to the internet for the very first time while they convert trash from the streets into sophisticated toys. This grant will afford laptops, maker kits, and a solar panel to keep the makerspace open after school for the kids to come learn, make, and play. This will truly be a life-changing educational program for the rural region.
Overcoming Food-Insecurity with Sustainable Urban Agricultural Program – 50 households in Kasese, Uganda
A chapter of IDEAS for Uganda will be changing the way the people of Kasese obtain food, generate household income, and think about nutrition with this pilot Sustainable Urban Agricultural Program. The Central Division of Kasese is a food-insecure location, but this program will convert unproductive household land into food-producing gardens, with a plan to expand to 50 households in the region. While teaching local women how to garden and compost for long-term care and profit, educational programs about nutrition will be included in the training. While overseeing the successful implementation of the program, we will also be tracking the potential impact of the program by measuring potential changes that range from meals consumed per day, waste diverted through composting, and academic performance of children who are in benefiting households.
Humane Chicken Rearing & Soil Amendment Vocational Training Program – Multitech Business School, Uganda
The IDEAS for MultiTech chapter at MultiTech Business School in Uganda has developed a sustainable business model that focuses on more humane chicken rearing and composting techniques for soil remediation, and will be teaching this vocational training program at their school to students attending (and visiting), with a training site afforded by the Solutions Fund. This practical skills program will prepare students (and visiting students) to start up a sustainable small business which produces a greater survival rate for chicks due to a “deep litter” system and more accelerated, all-natural soil remediation through manure composting techniques. Innovating these two aspects of this small-business model leads to more humane and healthy chickens and eggs, as well as more healthy soil for gardens.
Award-Winning Vertical Microgardening (VMG) Program Expands – Multitech Business School, Uganda
Paul Matovu is a member of IDEAS for Makerere and IDEAS for Uganda and has been recognized by the MIT Climate CoLab Competition and UniTED Impact Awards for his incredible Vertical Microgardening design. This vertical farm is a part of a urban farming program which optimizes the limited space in urban areas by growing more food with less soil and space through these VMG systems. The Solutions Fund will go to afford an educational demo site at the Multitech Business School which will coincide with micro-gardening courses, free study tours for the surrounding community and agro-ecological study sessions on-site. The goal is to increase the rate of adoption of these systems so that fresh produce will made more easily available in food-insecure urban areas.
Congratulations to our Solutions Fund Winners!
The next Solutions Fund Cycle opens December 15th, 2017 at IDEASforUs.org/Fund
Photo by Doug Linstedt