Friday, October 2, 2015

Director's Report, October 2015: Fundraisers, Finances, and the Future

A report from the director
Fundraisers, Finances, and the Future

The Amazon Pueblo project is the intermediary between the organizations and agencies that have  many resources and the people of La Libertad.  We use the money we raise to help provide services with a greater impact.  We harness the enthusiasm of our volunteers and the villagers to achieve our goals.  The village will attain profitable, sustainable business if we keep working towards that future.

In this upcoming year we will be helping to develop the village’s infrastructure.  This is needed as we start the first indigenous-run business ventures.  As we prove ourselves with successful completion of the smaller projects, the possibilities of large-scale, highly profitable and sustainable cacao production will become possible.

The public dock (funded by Amazon Pueblo)


These are the goals for the years of 2015-2016.
  1. Increase the number of volunteers assisting the project
  2. Directly develop sustainable business in the village
  3. Make connections and partner with other NGOs or businesses that may assist the village to develop sustainable business, directly or indirectly by assisting with business, health, or educational services
  4. Improve the health and sanitation conditions within the village
House construction

Fundraisers and Finance

A warm thank you to everyone who helped to plan, run, fund, and clean up after all of the fundraisers!

In California we made $2,363 from donations and $120 in profits from handcraft sales.
In Maine we made $706 from the silent auctions, $725.15 profits from handcraft and emerald sales, and $1,817.98 from donations.

Other donations and income for January 1, 2015 until September, 21 2015 is $156.

Our total income (profit) from fundraising, sales, and other income was: $5,888.13. The cost of the goods (handcrafts and emeralds) that we sold was $477. After all of our expenses (fees, cost of goods sold, promotion, travel, software, and subscription services) we currently have $5,447.47 in our checking account, and $100.45 cash in hand.

I expect us to have another $80 in expenses (QuickBooks program cost, Facebook fees, postage stamps) in September/October.

Piranha Party Fundraiser at Trackside Restaurant, Rockland, Maine

The Future

Buying more handcrafts and emeralds
The cost to us from what we sold was $477.  I think it best to buy $477 of handcrafts and emeralds to replace what we sold.

Our recommendations are to buy more bloodwood jewelry, bloodwood carvings, bloodwood key chains, beetle wing earrings, 3 piranha, and 3 blowguns ($177 total).  I will buy these in the village.

As for emeralds we think it best to buy silver rings, stud earrings, and simple drop earrings.  We should keep our selling price for emerald jewelry between $45 and $150.  The total cost of the emeralds will be $300.  I will buy these in Bogota.

Handcrafts from the village


Trip to Portland, Maine
A company in Portland, Ocean Renewable Power Corporation ORPC, is developing a floating hydroelectric power system.  They could possibly provide reliable, 24 hour electricity for La Libertad and the adjoining village.  The cost is expected to be less than the current diesel generator system.  They are interested in speaking with us.  It is possible that we may be considered for a pilot project.  I expect the funding to come from an Amazon Pueblo-brokered ORPC, other NGO, and government grants.  I am meeting with them on October 8 at 11 am in Portland.

RivGen® Power System by Ocean Renewable Power Corporation, Portland, Maine

Trip to Washington DC
I have been in contact with a friend of the project who works for the US State Department.  He is encouraging me to make connections in Washington and the US embassy in Bogota.  He believes USAID would be interested in helping us.

We are also meeting with a consultant from the Chisholm Group.  The group works with NGOs, governments, or anyone else who needs help with the Washington bureaucracy.  They have an office in Washington and Colombia.

The second reason for this trip is to meet with representatives from Sustainable Harvest International (SHI).  They are based in Ellsworth, Maine.  However, for this meeting I need to go to DC.  I met with SHI last October to learn about their organization and to tell them about us.  They mentioned that there were possibilities of us working together, possibly seeking a combined grant to help with sustainable agriculture in the village.  We were not ready to go forward with this partnership last year.  Now we are ready.  The meeting will be between the Field Program director, Program Impact Officer, two Country Directors, and myself. 

The cost of this trip will be $380 for a plane ticket, bus ticket, and car rental.
I believe this trip to DC will help to put us on the path to secure the funding we need for the major works of the project.

Upcoming Expenses in Colombia
Here is what I expect for expenses in Colombia:
  • Repair rot to the kitchen and dock; $300
  • Fees for Fundacion Amazon Pueblo, Association of Farmers, and support; $100 (due in January)
  • Internet; $30/month
  • Local travel costs in gasoline/oil/dock fees; $40/month
  • Boats, motor, and hull maintenance $200
  • Rent?  It is $200/month which I am paying for until we have more income
  • Building a semi-secure storage area in the guest house and building maintenance costs; $300
Project volunteers doing an arts and crafts activity

Possibilities of income

We are applying for grants.  One of our project volunteers in the village, Jeff Sires, said he may be able to help us find and apply for grants.  He has experience in the field.  We may also receive donation money from Destination Compensation.  All grant and donation money would be targeted for a specific program.  Up to 15% of the money from the grant may be used for rent and administrative costs.

Painting the world

Grant Projects

Here are the projects for which we need grant funding.  This list is in order of importance and ease of attainability, more or less.
  • maintaining and finishing the village's raft (We have received approval for a grant from the Colombian government, so hopefully we have this covered.)
  • volunteer support (fix the rot in the kitchen, improve the guesthouse, improve telecommunications/internet, plant and tend a vegetable garden)
  • drilling a well and putting in plumbing and 25 bathrooms in the village (I am applying for our first grant with the Coca Cola Foundation to cover this.  I have also recently received communication with the governor's office in Leticia.  They said that they may be able to help with funding.)
  • buying an aluminum boat and a 30 hp outboard motor
  • aquaculture (Colombian grant money may be available to start this.)
  • starting a pilot project for growing cacao, at least 5 hectares (100 meters X 100 meters) to start  (This is the most expensive and complicated project on our list.  I believe this also holds the most hope for sustainable business.  The grants for this may come from a variety of sources.)
  • Improving agriculture in the village
  • Small business development

Climbing a tree for fruit

Grants Sources

Here are two of the sources that I am using to find grants.  There are also many more.  Anyone may help in our quest for grants.

If any of our project readers are interested in helping us to search and apply for grants, please contact us!
Grant Station is a database of many grants.  They also offer information about applying for grants.
I like this better than Grant Station for finding grants.  They have a great newsletter to which you may subscribe.  They offer a free service.  Next year we may not renew our Grant Station subscription and instead go with this company's premium service.

Village meeting

More Money Needed
The money we have now, I expect, will keep us operating in Colombia until January.  We need at least $1000 more to take us until June.  Anything above that is better.

I worry about Gustavo’s motor.  Gustavo is our main supporter in the village.  His motor is difficult to start, sometimes stops, and needs repairs.  He helps provide us with transportation.  At the least we can help repair the motor.  However, it may be time to start thinking about getting our own motor for the project’s boat.

Gustavo's motor.  It is in need of much repair.

Continued Fundraising
We are currently having a raffle for a lobster trap rocking chair (Thanks Mark, Julie, and Stephen!).  We also are slowly receiving small individual cash donations.  We may give a second try at raising money through a social media campaign.  We didn’t have much luck last time, but we can try again!

Night meal

One of the most important health and safety concerns in the village is the lack of life vests for boat travel on the river.  We recently had a child drown due to bad river conditions.  A campaign to buy, maintain, educate, and disperse (in a borrowing-type program) life vest may be a good way to restart our crowdfunding efforts.

That's it for this report.  Thanks for reading!
(Photo credits to Beki Henderson and Crystal Angulo)

The Amazon River

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