Hybrid Social Solutions: Innovation in Distributing Solar

by Liza Farr

In the past two years, Jim Ayala, Founder and CEO of Hybrid Social Solutions (HSS), has come to the forefront of entrepreneurs in solar technology. His company is a social business, with the mission to “Develop practical applications for existing technologies by understanding localized conditions and co-developing new product lines with customers” (World Economic Forum). Specifically, HSS works in the Philippines to provide solar-powered electricity access for the many remote, impoverished villages, 25% of which do not currently have access (World Economic Forum. Ayala gathered a solar energy network to do the negotiating with solar supplies to tailor products to local needs. The company’s work has increased household cash flow by 25%, and improved health and safety conditions by eliminating kerosene fumes, fires, and accidental ingestion (World Economic Forum). Children are able to study 45% longer, and 97% feel safer (Energyboardroom, Jan 30, 2014). Using solar to power off-grid communities is not new, but HSS’s personalized method of distribution and technology will change the way solar energy is pursued in developing nations.

The technologies Ayala and his company have come up with are catered specifically to the various needs of villagers, which they learn by visiting the villages themselves. They introduced solar-powered spotlights that shine 50 meters away, scaring away pests and reducing crop loss up to 30%. Fisherman often use kerosene to attract fish at night, which takes up 40% of the revenue. HSS designed a solar light that would attract the fish, saving the fishermen money and increasing health and safety (World Economic Forum). Ayala’s most recent venture is through Siftung Solarenergie Foundation, where they are partnering with the Department of Education to implement solar libraries in classrooms across the County (Official Gazette, Aug 19, 2014). Students can check out solar reading lights to study at night, increasing study time for children, but also helping their families who can benefit from the light as well. Ten schools had received a solar library in mid 2014, and many more are being implanted, increasing safety of students and their potential for economic advancement (Official Gazette, Aug 19, 2014). Ayala sees these solar innovations as akin to cell phones. Many people in developing nations have cell phones because the areas do not have the infrastructure for landlines. Solar allows these people the same opportunities as those in less remote areas, without the high costs of electricity infrastructure (Energyboardroom, Jan 30, 2014). Because of their strategy of working with their customers to develop a truly useful product, and continuing education and maintenance of the technologies, HSS has been extremely successful with not only turning a profit, but also providing a lasting positive benefit to Filipino communities.

Energyboardroom. “Interview: Jim Ayala, Founder & CEO, Hybrid Social Solutions, Philippines.” Jan 31, 2014.

Official Gazette. “DepEd: Light for Education Program to provide solar libraries for rural schools.” Aug 19, 2014. [http://www.gov.ph/2014/08/19/deped-light-for-education-program-to-provide-for-solar-libraries-in-rural-areas/]

World Economic Forum: [http://reports.weforum.org/social-innovation-2013/hybrid-social-solutions-inc-hssi/]

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