Ecodana is a San Francisco-based for-profit social enterprise that seeks to improve the lives of the rural poor around the world by facilitating funding for small-scale, sustainable projects in their communities.
What They Do
Ecodana partners with non-profit organizations working to fight poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries with small-scale, sustainable projects that make a real difference in people’s lives.
In exchange for a 10% fee, Ecodana helps each project get the funding it needs by crowdsourcing donations through its website. Unlike traditional charities, which often have minimum donation figures, Ecodana focuses on micro-donations, believing that many small steps can make as much difference as one large one. As the website declares, “For the price of a coffee and a donut, you can change people’s lives.”
Although donations are not tax-deductible, donors can follow the progress of the projects they have helped fund through updates by email, Facebook, or on Ecodana’s website. Ecodana’s partners provide detailed information and photographs documenting the progress of each project. For example, you can check out the progress reports on a previously funded project that seeks to improve village health and nutrition by planting Moringa trees, also known as “miracle trees” due to their high nutritional quality and medicinal uses.
Much like the popular microfinance charity Kiva, Ecodana offers donors the opportunity to donate directly to a specific project, and in many cases to “meet” the individuals and families directly benefiting from their donation through photos and progress reports, an opportunity rarely offered by traditional charities.
Ecodana is currently helping fund projects for partners Thien Chi and Anh Duong in Vietnam and the Asociacion Amigas del Sol in Guatemala, including:
- Biogas Systems for Vietnam. In many parts of rural Vietnam, the most important source of income for families is livestock farming. Unfortunately, manure is often discharged into community waterways, polluting the water and presenting a health risk to local human, livestock, and wildlife populations. Installing inexpensive biogas systems will not only solve the problem of improper manure disposal, it also provides a clean, renewable source of energy for local farmers, reducing carbon emissions and deforestation.
- Compost Latrines for Guatemala. In rural Guatemala, the most common toilet facilities are simply holes dug in the ground. These holes attract flies and other disease-carrying organisms, leading to periodic outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and other diseases. Building dry composting latrines not only will enable rural Guatemalan families to improve local sanitation, it will also provide them with a safe source of fertilizer for their fields.
- Plastic Recycling for Vietnam. Littering is a major problem in rural Vietnam, with only about 30-40% of the 100 million tons of trash accumulated every year properly collected and disposed of. Educating schoolchildren about the impact of pollution and enlisting them to help collect plastic waste for recycling will not only help clean up rural Vietnam and educate the people about the importance of proper waste disposal, it will also provide a source of income for schools to fund scholarships and improve facilities.
How You Can Help
You can help fund one of Ecodana’s current projects, or donate to The Well, a “rainy day” fund that helps cover unexpected expenses on completed projects, such as repairs due to damage from natural disasters.