Method Profile: The Footprint Project Finding Innovation in Collaboration

Welcome to our next method profile! Our previous entry focused on using transparency in social enterprise. In operating any venture, everything flows from your approach, and identifying a proper method helps you effectively fulfill your team’s initiative.

Together, we’ll be profiling interesting social enterprises to discuss an anchor method in their strive for social good. The term “anchor method” is to express the intentional and grounded nature of the approaches propelling a social enterprise forward.

This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise initiative improvements.

In today’s post, we’ll look into clean energy social enterprise the Footprint Project leveraging collaboration. The nonprofit brings clean energy “to turn every disaster into an opportunity for sustainable development.”

Knowing the Company

The Footprint Project utilizes solar energy to aid emergency responders at disaster sites, and builds long-term benefits from disaster recovery efforts. Energy is typically supplied as a solar tent or solar trailer in place of harmful diesel or gas options. Through solar generators, sites are able to power lighting, communication tools, and equipment to rehabilitate areas needing disaster relief.

One of the nonprofit’s earlier projects was stationed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Originally, the Footprint Project was focused on bringing solar generators but was requested by a collaborator, the Mutual Aid Disaster Relief, to host a weekend-long training on proper maintenance of the solar equipment. 

In the past, the community noted that though they had received similar aid, they were not taught maintenance. This resulted in a loss of the clean energy investments.

Fortunately, the Footprint Project reached out to Solar Energy International (SEI) and Bosque Modelo to successfully present a Spanish language solar curriculum over the weekend. During a detailed interview, the link between the three collaborators is explained:

“Bosque Modelo has the license to do Solar Energy International (SEI) curriculum training in Puerto Rico. We signed an MOU with Bosque Modelo and SEI to work on cutting down the FV203 curriculum into a more accessible version for folks that had received solar battery systems in Puerto Rico but are not installers.”

Actually, in the same interview, the Footprint Project mentions over five collaborators that helped with training, site operations, or equipment.

Recently, the nonprofit partnered with SimpliPhi to generate power to a field hospital, amidst COVID-19, for a migrant camp in Mexico. This helps Global Response Management (GRM), who provides free medical care and operates the facility, keep their efforts on medical care instead of facility costs. Additionally, the Footprint Project began bringing masks as part of their aid.

The Footprint Project wisely intertwines collaboration to strengthen communities, and “build back greener”.

Collaboration to Optimize Performance

Each of the projects contain a base component of collaboration. In Puerto Rico, collaboration was used to prolong service impact. In Mexico, collaboration was needed to reduce resource stress. Mindfulness regarding the collaborations optimized the performance of the Footprint Project’s overall service.

On their official website, you will see a page named “alliances” under the “who we are” tab. The entire page gives shout-outs to what are most likely their frequent collaborators. An emphasis on their partnerships proves how integral collaboration is to their operations.

The Footprint Project further extends the importance of collaboration, or more so, sharing in an effort, by giving access to operation files. Their official website includes a resource page with open access to data files and external resource suggestions. The access is almost like an invitation for other groups to build on what the Footprint Project learned through experience.

Collaboration is similar to a willingness to share what you know, and an eagerness to learn what others have to offer.

Strategy Within Collaboration

We see the Footprint Project deepens impact with collaboration, but the nonprofit even intertwines collaboration into revenue stream approaches. 

One apparent revenue stream is a collaboration with the clean energy tech company Arcadia Power. Arcadia Power is a free platform that connects your utility bill to clean energy options in your area.

Through a collaboration with Footprint Project, Arcadia Power has a program where platform users can commit to adding $1 to their monthly bill as a donation. To create a sense of urgency, Arcadia pledged to match every dollar of signups by a certain deadline, meaning double funding. For this partnership, 100% of the funds goes to the Footprint Project, and platform users may opt-out when they want.

Another apparent revenue stream comes in the form of the Footprint Project’s for-profit counterpart, Rent.Solar. The company rents solar nanogrids to festivals, construction sites, catering companies, and other events as an alternative power source. The company is more like a service, but can be considered a collaboration in creating great event experiences attached to clean energy.

The Footprint Project’s collaborations bring innovation to their operation, problem-solving, and service.

Applicable Takeaway 

An anchor based on a collaboration can be a great lesson on resourcefulness and creativity in social enterprise. One beneficial experiment to try is considering a key factor that can inspire more innovation in your operations and service.

Footprint Project’s favorable habit of welcoming collaboration completes this profile.

People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.

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