Putting Development Back into the Hands of the Community

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The Buckminster Fuller Challenge recognizes innovative strategies with the potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems. Each year, a distinguished jury awards $100,000 to the winning strategy to support further development and implementation. In this series, we’re featuring the 21 semi-finalists currently under consideration for the 2011 award.

spark-microgrants-buckminster-fullerSpark MicroGrants empowers communities to design their own development projects and then provides small grants to assist these communities in the  implementation of these “self-designed” projects. Communities have used the trainings and funding to produce water and power infrastructure, school construction, HIV awareness education, and flood control. In Rwanda, over 4000 lives have been affected with only $25,000. Operating with low overhead, the organization has 13 projects either completed or currently underway in 5 countries and aims to expand globally.

Community-Enterprise-SolutionsDeveloped by Community Enterprise Solutions, the MicroConsignment Model (MCM) makes products that enhance quality of life–such as seeing-eyeglasses–accessible to rural Guatemalans. The project also helps to alleviate poverty by training local entrepreneurs to sell the products on consignment within their communities. Over $1.5 million dollars of economic impact has been created from about $400,000 in donations and local Guatemalans now have complete ownership and control of the execution of the MCM within their country.


Based in Costa Rica since 1990, EARTH University has seen more than 1500 alumni contribute to sustainable development and 23 percent of alumni go on to be entrepreneurs. The success of the program is reflected in their partnership with Whole Foods, where student ideas are integrated into the supply process. They seek to bring their model to Africa in partnership with Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, a consortium of 25 universities in Africa, by producing a flexible tool-kit that will guide the creation of undergraduate agricultural entrepreneurial education programs in various cultural contexts.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

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