Teach a Man to Fish, He’ll Eat for a Lifetime. Teach a Woman to Engineer, She’ll Light Up the World.

This week we’re changing it up a bit and focusing on a brilliantly simple innovative service that has been changing the world for nearly 40 years! Barefoot College is a revolutionary approach to education teaching the poorest women (and men) in remote rural areas of the world to become trained engineers, doctors and architects. Their tagline “Train a grandmother, change the world” reflects their mission and their principals are simple:

  • Knowledge, skills, and wisdom found in villages should be used for its development before getting skills from outside
  • Sophisticated technology should be in the hands and control of the poor communities so that they are not dependent or exploited
  • There is a difference between literacy and education
  • Women are equal and critical to success

Founded by one of the “most influential people in the world,” Bunker Roy, the very foundation of the volunteer-based college is built by and for the poor. Students learn skills in program areas such as Solar, Water, Education, Healthcare, and Craft and then work as school teachers, doctors, midwives, solar engineers, architects, artisans, computer instructors, and accountants in their villages, just to name a few.

The admission process is determined by the community via a committee meeting in her village, and the selection process is “one that is organic” says Megan Fallone, Senior Advisor to Barefoot College. Once a community’s need has been determined based on Barefoot College’s criteria (e.g., being inaccessible, non-electrified, remote) a participant is nominated by her village, agrees to leave, and gets trained on campus in Rajasthan, India or Kontaline, Sierra Leone. After a six month schooling in her discipline, the graduate returns back to her village with the goal of “paying-it-forward” and teaching her community to become self-reliant, sustainable and autonomous using the skills acquired during training.

The impact on the village is incredible, but it also has a global impact. In particular, introducing solar electrification saves lives and improves the environment for everyone. According to energy facts compiled by the World Bank, 20% of the world’s population is still without power. Additionally 2.8 billion people rely on solid fuels such as wood, charcoal, coal and manure for cooking and heating. The smoke and fumes from the above methods kill approximately 1.5 million people from respiratory diseases and damages our environment.  So when a power-stricken community becomes solar electrified by the village engineer, it’s now part of the solution instead of the problem.

As best described on their website,

“Barefoot College has proved that both illiterate and semi-literate men and women can fabricate, install, use, repair, and maintain sophisticated solar units through basic knowledge share and hands-on practical training. It has harnessed solar energy not only to provide light but also to create employment for the unemployable, to boost income for the poor, to save the environment by reducing carbon emission and not cutting trees, and most importantly, to provide self-reliant solutions within village communities.”

Check out the incredible impact Barefoot College has had on a global scale by the numbers:

450,000 Rural areas now have light

500,000 Liters of kerosene saved

64 Countries with Solar Engineers

750 Women Solar Engineers

13.02 Reduction of carbon emissions into the environment

99,000,000 Liters of drinking water available by Rain Water Harvesting

2,800,000 School children accessing drinking water

400 Rural water engineers employed by Barefoot Water

909 Villages access rainwater in 8 countries!

75,000 Total children in attendance in night school since 1975

14,000 Total number of Barefoot teachers in government schools

50,000 Total number of craft items sold in 2012

Have an idea or invention you’d like us to highlight or feature? Send us your invention, idea or news to info@CycleTechnologies.com We love to discuss brilliant innovations from all over the world!


Barefoot College

Learning From a Barefoot Movement

The Women Bringing Solar Power to Sierra Leone

United Nations – Sustainable Energy for All

Clinton Global Citizen Awards

Energy Facts

Tilonia Crafts


Don’t You Trash Talk Me!

There was a time when we didn’t think about water pollution, chemicals, contaminants, toxic levels of “this” and “that”.  Now, we think twice before flushing down our expired prescriptions or tossing out old batteries (right?). Sadly, our waterways are still polluted with plastic, industrial waste, and other unmentionables. It’s gotten so bad in Baltimore’s popular Inner Harbor that the harbor was given an “F” during its most recent annual environmental assessment.  The Maryland Department of the Environment is actually seeking “penalties, corrective actions for alleged violations of land, air and water regulations”.  

Removing trash from the water would be a GREAT start to helping this crisis. Traditionally it’s been done by boats with nets and by hand.

Ok, where’s our problem solver?

Check out Clearwater Mill’s Inner Harbor Water Wheel – a solar-powered, trash collecting monster machine capable of removing up to 50 TONS (100,000 POUNDS) of trash per day.

Cycle Technologies Features the Solar Powered Water Wheel by Clearwater Mills as a Brilliantly Simple Solution to Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

Cycle Technologies Features the Solar Powered Water Wheel by Clearwater Mills as a Brilliantly Simple Solution to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Check it out!

Invention: The Solar Powered Water Wheel Trash Inceptor
Inventor: Clearwater Mills
Capability: Collects up 50 tons of trash and debris from waterways
Recent Successes: 1,000 tons of trash in Baltimore collected by Water Wheel

Related Resources:

Emerging Contaminants in the Environment

Inner Harbor Water Wheel

Public Works: The Amazing Self-Powered Garbage-Trapping Machine

How a Solar-Powered Water Wheel Can Clean 50,000 Pounds of Trash Per Day From Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Inner Harbor’s water wheel gets 1M YouTube views

Have an idea or invention you’d like us to highlight or feature? Send us your invention, idea or news to info@CycleTechnologies.com We love to discuss brilliant innovations from all over the world!

Brilliantly Simple Family Planning is Available 2DAY!

We love to discuss brilliant innovations from all over the world, and sometimes those ideas hit close to home. This week, Cycle Technologies is launching the 2Day app, the FIRST and ONLY app based on the TwoDay Method® of family planning.

Cycle Technologies Kicks Off Campaign for 2Day Launch

Cycle Technologies Kicks Off Campaign for 2Day Launch

Developed by researchers at the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, the TwoDay Method is a simple way for a woman to know if she is on a day when pregnancy is likely or not. It takes all of the complicated analysis and charting out of the equation and focuses on what really matters.

Patent Pending 2Day App Makes It Easy to Use the TwoDay Method of Family Planning

Check out the 2Day app in iTunes.

Learn more at TwoDayMethod.com