Hello ZooShare supporters,
I would like to share a letter with you from one of our friends, Carol Lue of CaribShare Biogas. Carol is a fellow-entrepreneur and biogas developer, located in Jamaica. Drawing inspiration from ZooShare’s business model, CaribShare will use biogas technology to produce renewable power, reduce poverty and take action on climate change. They have enough funds to cover 85% of the construction costs for their pilot project, but they need your help to raise the last $20,000. If you are inspired by Carol’s work, we urge you to support CaribShare’s crowdfunding campaign. Please read Carol’s letter below to learn more.
Dear ZooShare members,
Unexpected wins are one of the joys of being an entrepreneur.
I am the Founder and Executive Director of CaribShare Biogas, a social enterprise and registered charity in Jamaica. A few weeks ago, I was honoured to speak at a Virgin Unite event in NYC to celebrate the launch of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development (there are 17, covering poverty, inequality and climate change). As CaribShare touches on several of these goals, this was indeed an unexpected win and an amazing highlight to share our story there. I was especially honoured to also share the platform with Sir Richard Branson himself who has inspired me and so many other entrepreneurs to use business as a force for social good. Our mission is to produce clean energy in a way that reduces poverty and allows us to take action on climate change.
In partnership with Ch4 Biogas in Ottawa, we are developing and operating the first biogas plant in Jamaica to generate electricity on a sustained basis. And, drawing inspiration from ZooShare’s business model and developing a partnership with ReGenerate Biogas, we are working with the hotel and small farming communities to deliver biogas solutions to the entire Caribbean region in a socially impactful way.
What We Do
We collect tremendous quantities of food waste from hotels and animal poo/manure from small livestock farms to produce biogas (type of biofuel) and organic fertilizer for sale.
The biogas is sold to businesses that are high energy users so they can self-generate electricity at a significantly lower cost than purchasing from the grid. And, the fertilizer is sold to farmers at a highly discounted rate to help lower their production cost and promote organic farming.
We then share up to 50% of our surplus revenues with our participating farmers as meaningful income to help support their livelihood and the vitality of their communities.
Our Current Project
Construction of our pilot 100 kW biogas plant in Montego Bay will be completed next month. It will process organic waste from the Sandals, RIU, Iberostar, and Half Moon Resorts as well as from 50+ small pig farms in the surrounding areas. The biogas will be used to generate electricity to help power a highly energy intensive sewage treatment facility.
My Path to Launching CaribShare
Bringing CaribShare along over the past 3 years to launching next month has been both extremely rewarding and challenging. Continuous ups and downs and incredible struggles have been faced: raising capital with limited collateral, negotiating the bureaucracy of getting our environmental permit approved, and negotiating both the seen and unseen political and competitive dynamics that come with developing a pioneering venture that is both a waste and energy company are just a few examples.
But despite these challenges, what has kept me going, beyond my confidence in CaribShare’s business model and my own personal resilience, is the clear vision that I have for CaribShare to grow and deliver clean energy in a socially impactful way across the Caribbean.
Growing up in rural Jamaica, I felt so blessed to be close to nature and to have that connection. But, I was also affected by the poverty that was around and the struggles that good hardworking people were facing. I also felt that it didn’t have to be so, and I was determined to help from then.
Fast forward many years later to 2012 after having left Jamaica to study and having worked in business and sustainability for about 15 years in Boston and Toronto, that opportunity arose. Having just been laid off and looking to begin the next chapter in my life, I entered the proposal for CaribShare into the IDEAS Energy Innovation Contest that was being sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank. And, out of 3000 proposals, CaribShare was one of the lucky 8 winners. And, as a result, I gladly moved back to Jamaica.
From the competition, I was awarded a $200K grant which I have been leveraging to raise $600K to launch CaribShare’s pilot thanks to funding assistance from Caricom Energy Program, GIZ (German Corporation for International Cooperation), and the Development Bank of Jamaica.
The Way Forward
Amazingly, our biogas plant will also be the first in Jamaica to generate electricity on a sustained basis, which is a significant contribution to solving the energy woes of Jamaica and the Caribbean. Plus, we will be diverting immense quantities of organic waste from landfills for clean energy generation and rural development. And, I can clearly see developing up to 6 of these centralized 100kW generating biodigesters in Jamaica before expanding to other Caribbean countries that also have a lot of hotel and farm waste.
But, this excitement to expand comes with sobriety in knowing that I am going against the odds in developing CaribShare from the ground up. Luckily, my supporters have remained committed despite my struggles and lengthy delays in launching the pilot because they too support the vision and see my persistence. And, through divine intervention, somehow I have been brought in touch with persons in crucial moments willing either to offer some meaningful intervention or to be truly collaborative. So, despite the never ending exhaustion that I feel as an entrepreneur, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude, optimism, and certainty in knowing that with the right connections, partnerships, and collaborations CaribShare will be unstoppable in improving people’s lives. And, yes together we can all make the Global Goals come true.
We have launched a crowdfund campaign to raise additional funds to successfully implement our pilot, which can be found here . To support our social impact, contribute to our fund, share our campaign link, and like our facebook page. Thank you for your support, and I would love to hear from you.
Founder & Executive Director, CaribShare Biogas