Sweet Spot

Sweet Spot
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The story in developing countries is not always one of environmental setbacks. A combination of youth, entrepreneurial innovation, and ecological sensitivity has been mobilized to foster an array of projects that uplift the downtrodden in the third world.

Overseeing these noble activities is Ashoka, an international public interest organization headquartered in Arlington, Va. and dedicated to promoting progressive change. Talented individuals are recruited and subsidized to carry out the organization’s mission, with the environment being one of the major categories.

Evariste Aohoui, a university graduate from the West African nation of Ivory Coast is one of Ashoka’s foremost environmental recipients. In 2010, he established a community service project for youths that focused on cleaning up waste disposal sites. Subsequently, Aohoui anticipated the electronic revolution that is propelling Africa towards internet parity with the rest of the world. In response, he has formed an organization to recycle discarded computers as well as other electronic devices. Where possible the equipment is rebuilt and distributed to the poor for free. Otherwise, the parts are sold as scrap. His operation has reduced toxic waste pollution through the opening of 20 collection sites and has provided employment for thousands of his countrymen in six Ivory Coast cities including the capital, Abidjan.

Gladdys Kalemla-Zikusoka is the first female veterinarian to serve in the Uganda government. With the help of Ashaka, she formed an organization that has had success in the research and prevention of the transmission of diseases between human beings and African wildlife, particularly primates.

Sriram Kuchimaanchi is working with industries in his native India to integrate environmentally sustainable practices. With restauranteurs, for example, he has guided them towards recycling and composting of food waste, better structural design to exploit daylight and reduce electricity usage, and a policy of only serving glasses of water at the customers’ request.

In addition, the American-educated technician is bringing his sustainability crusade to the board rooms of India’s textile and construction industries.

Another Ashaka recruit in India has uncovered a method to extract rainwater from underground porous pockets. It is a much cheaper and environmentally superior alternative to established wells. Ashaka reports that 100 million people in India have turned to his technique.

In Bangladesh, an Ashaka disciple has developed a filtration system for purifying arsenic-contaminated drinking water. Arsenic poisoning had previously been responsible for one out of five deaths in the country.

These are only a few of the 3500 recruits who have excelled under Ashaka’s auspices in 93 countries during a span of more than four decades.

It is comforting that dynamic individual entrepreneurial innovation is alive and well in unsuspected places outside the confines of American free enterprise.

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