3 Problem Solvers and How They’re Creating Change

Solar Ship is about finding solutions to problems and supporting people who aren’t afraid to use great ideas to overcome big obstacles. Here are a few problem solvers who are on our radar.

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Gloria Asare Adu, Ghana

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What’s the problem?

Ghana’s overuse of timber for fuel. Deforestation occurs rapidly and regrowth takes years, destroying ecosystems and threatening the environment.

What’s the solution?

Bamboo. Gloria Asare Adu recognized the benefits of the wood-like, tall grass and started Global Bamboo Products Ltd., Ghana.

  • Bamboo is plentiful in both Ghana and Ethiopia and is a fantastic alternative to timber because it grows very quickly. In fact, under the right conditions, bamboo can grow as much as two feet in a single day.
  • It produces 35% more oxygen than trees, which is amazing. AND Bamboo is a “carbon catcher”—it essentially absorbs and stores CO2 emissions.
  • Not only is bamboo a sustainable alternative to wood, it’s use creates more jobs in impoverished rural areas. Adu is specifically focusing on women and girls in rural areas, training them to make bamboo crafts and furniture.

Adu’s project is environmentally focused with a socio-economic twist. While focusing on one problem, she manages to address several others. Bamboo saves ecosystems, trees, and the livelihoods of farmers. It’s a solution we can get behind.

 Skwachàys Lodge & Residence, Canada

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Skwaychay’s 40-foot story pole is the design and creation of master carver, Francis Horne Sr

What’s the problem?

There is not enough affordable housing for Canada’s Aboriginal population, limiting the opportunities of a marginalized group.

What’s the solution?

Located in downtown Vancouver, Skwachàys Lodge & Residence is a social enterprise mashup that offers:

  • 24 shelter rate apartments for Aboriginal artists who are at risk of homelessness.
  • 18 boutique style hotel rooms for socially conscientious travellers, or Aboriginal patients from remote areas who travel to the city for medical treatment.
  • A fair trade art gallery that prevents cultural appropriation and makes sure Aboriginal artists are paid fairly for their work.

100% of the profits from the hotel rooms go back to the Vancouver Native Housing Society (VNHS), which owns and operates Skwachàys. The VNHS provides safe, secure, affordable housing not only for the Aboriginal community, but to any person who finds themselves without a home. Skwachàys combines art and housing to bring Aboriginal experiences to the forefront of life in Vancouver.

Samuel Malinga, Uganda

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What’s the problem?

There is limited access to sanitation facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, 65% of the population has no access to sanitary bathroom facilities. Pit latrines are not emptied regularly and are overused. The outcome? Contaminated land, drinking water, and the spread of disease.

What’s the solution?

Samuel Malinga, a 26-year-old from Uganda started the company Sanitation Africa Ltd. using a low-cost sanitation process that turns waste into something usable.

  • Simple, hygienic toilets are built for a community, then the sludge is safely pumped out and converted into agricultural manure and cooking briquettes.
  • These latrines can be set up in unplanned or remote areas, keeping faecal matter isolated from people and the surrounding environment, despite a lack of infrastructure.
  • Using Malinga’s system, individuals can start their own sludge-removal businesses.

Malinga, who was born in a rural area and grew up in a poor part of Kampala, is all too familiar with the dangers of degraded sanitation. Now he’s preventing disease and keeping things clean. His new system sounds like alchemy, and an incredible solution for remote areas or informal urban settings.

Do you know some great problem solvers, or as we like to call them, Ntangoraneurs? How are they achieving change? Let us know in the comments!