In Guatemala, clean stoves have become a very popular item. Many organizations are trying to get non-smoking, safe stoves to families throughout the country. However, there is a problem surfacing that is starting to become more and more apparent; a one-size-fits-all stove usually does not fit all sizes.

This is where the organization “Soluciones Apropriadas” steps in. They have come out with a line of different stoves with the goal of being flexible enough to meet everyone’s needs. Soluciones Apropriadas, co-founded by Malcolm Gribble, Stephen Crowe, Annie Keel, and Collin Eaton aims to supply people with clean and energy efficient stoves that meet their specific needs. Families below the poverty line in Guatemala now are estimated to spend anywhere from one to two hours a day gathering firewood and fuel, leading to back problems and the depletion of wood in forests. If a family is buying fuel, too, this puts even more economic stress on their shoulders. This is why matching stoves to specific needs is so helpful.

What does this mean, though? Well, stoves come in three basic templates. The first, the Chispa-Hogar, is meant to be a stove that families can use at home. It comes with all the benefits as well, it is smoke-free, hides flame, and conserves firewood. The second type of stove, the Chispa, is meant for micro-entrepreneurial businesses or schools who prepare large quantities of food at the same time. The stove can boil a 100L pot of water in forty five minutes, and uses 60% less firewood to do so. The third stove, the Chispa-Tortillera, is meant specifically for tortilla vendors to conserve materials, and reduce smoke on the street and in restaurants, where many people could inhale it.

According to Malcolm Gribble, a single Chispa Hogar costs only about 1,250 quetzals, which ensures that many people below the poverty line can afford one. With these three different options, this also means that people will no longer have to make do with something that is cleaner, but doesn’t help them in their specific situation.

Soluciones Apropriadas has also gone on to offer combos where a person can receive an Ecofiltro water filter with their stoves. This is a very big boon, obviously, because a person below the poverty line needing a stove would probably be facing the need for clean drinking water as well.

All in all, Soluciones Apropriadas is doing a great thing. They are looking at a market where the consumer has to adapt to the product, and they are successfully turning that rule around. Now a product has to meet the needs of a consumer, and indeed it can at Soluciones Apropriadas.

As Green As It Gets does it all to help local craftsmen, artisans, and coffee farmers throughout Guatemala. They help people out through loans, they help design products and packaging for craftsmen, and help farmers by connecting them to buyers and supplying them with appropriate technology that makes their jobs easier.


This all started back in 2005 when founder Franklin Voorhes travelled to Guatemala and found out about the tremendously low prices that farmers were selling their coffee fruit for after hundreds of man-hours working the fields. Some of the prices were as low as 10 cents a pound, which left the farmers of the fruit in a horrible place after cashing out. So Franklin decided to start a cooperative which would help the farmers of Guatemala in selling their product. One nice story on their website is of Felix Poron, who made more in a day than he had all last year combined. This was a sign that the cooperative would be a great thing, and also that there were many other farmers in the same situation that could be helped.


How does As Green As It Gets (AGAIG) do this? The first step is to identify the specific problems and challenges facing farmers in a certain area. These could be anything from geographic to economic challenges, in a few different scales of severity. After identifying the challenges facing a farmer and his family, As Green then works to find a solution to said challenge. They search for interested importers, perspective buyers, who are willing to pay a fair price for premium green coffee beans. As Green then helps with packaging and shipping, enabling farmers to reach much larger markets. As Green also provides training to farmers, adding new skills and expertise to make their product that much better.


As Green started in coffee, and their roots remain there, but they’ve branched off to helping other small businesses, notably craftsmen, with their model. As Green provides support in a number of different ways, to best help an artist. As Green will help by providing funding for materials, machinery, and technical training to make sure artisans get good-quality products for a fair price, and have the tools to use them. As Green will also help by finding interested buyers both locally and in other countries. They also find ideas that would appeal to certain target markets, which exponentially helps sales, and enables artisans to better support themselves and their families.

In the startup world, money is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Everyone is on a shoestring budget, watching every penny they spend, and looking for every possible opportunity to save.   It’s because of this mindset that Robinhood caught my eye. Robinhood is a stock trading app created by Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt which aims to eliminate trade fees, and in truth, they already have.

Trading on Robinhood is incredibly easy, their app is simple and color-coded to give vital information at a glance, and a trade only takes three taps and a couple of seconds to complete. The app is currently only available on IPhone, but the company says that they will try and roll out an Android-compatible version and a desktop version later this year. As the app boasts, there really are zero commission fees on any of your trades, which means if you have one stock that goes up one penny, you have that penny, and you don’t have to pay upwards of seven dollars to trade for it.

What does this mean for startup entrepreneurs? Why would this apply to any of us? The answer is something most have already realized; savings. Down the road, after an entrepreneur has gotten a base version of his or her product up and running, they might have picked up a few dollars to turn around and invest in stocks. This option gives to benefits. The first is that entrepreneurs could invest with less risk, which is great. The second benefit is that Robinhood would give entrepreneurs a bit of hands-on experience with investing, which is always a good thing, as it teaches a person the basics from the other side of the glass.

Closer to home, however, I think that a lot of businesses can take a huge deal of inspiration out of what Robinhood has done. This app has solved a problem that many people have had for years, they’ve done so in an easy-to-access way, and they’ve managed to maintain a very homegrown and comfortable feel about the company the entire time. A lot of startups could possibly take these ideas and make them their own. Making sure customers feel connected to the company and solving their problems in a direct and non-sneaky way is a surefire plan to strengthen relations with your clients.

Robinhood, however, is an app that I wholeheartedly recommend. I’ve been using it for a few months now, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It helps to learn the basics of investing, it enables entrepreneurs to save money, and it allows a much larger audience to explore an area that is usually inaccessible to them.


Finding affordable housing in Guatemala is a big problem for many people. A 2012 IDB study estimates that roughly 67% of the population live in substandard housing,  while the Guatemala ministry of communications estimates a housing deficit of 1.5 million homes.    This deficit continues to grow as demand for new housing increases by 60,000 homes a year,  while new construction only provides for  20,000 new dwellings. (according to the Construction Chamber of Commerce.)

Constru Casa, a nonprofit organization created by Caroline van Heerde , is an initiative dedicated to helping poorer families in rural Guatemala by providing them with volunteer-built housing. The organization focuses on Guatemala for their house building, and has a full-time staff dedicated to this area along with a group of local masons who build the houses. The organization also has a board of directors in the United States (Friends of Construcasa) and a board of directors in Holland (Stichting Construcasa) who help oversee and manage everything.     People from all over the world volunteer, and work alongside masons and carpenters, helping wherever they can for tro to four weeks, which takes a house from the ground up.

When a family wants a home, they can pick from a few selections of types of houses that they would like, depending on their income and family size. The houses are one, two, or three rooms large, again according to family size and poverty level. The houses themselves cost $4,800 USD each, and are constructed of concrete block wall, concrete floors, and corrugated metal roofs.

Families moving in are asked to pay for one-third of the cost, over a series of monthly installments to instill a sense of ownership, which the organization says is a very valuable thing to have. A family must also have a Proof of Land Ownership for the site where a house is built. This is sometimes a bit of a challenge, because many people simply don’t have the legal documents to prove this. Constru Casa realizes this, however, and always looks for alternative ways to help people.

To many, these houses may not seem like much, but for these families they are lifesavers, often literally. Constru Casa and all of its volunteers are doing a great thing here in Guatemala, and we have nothing but the highest respect to give them.

Last month we had the opportunity to host HitchPlanet’s team here at the HUB, Luke and Flo, while working on new features for their ride share service in Vancouver. This is a post on their experience at Impact HUB Antigua and La Antigua Guatemala’s surroundings.

After a mild Winter in British Columbia and no snow, I took a break from Raincouver and joined Luke in Antigua, Guatemala for a month of remote work on HitchPlanet.


Luke standing in front of Volcán de Agua in Antigua.

Luke and I are fortunate enough to have the possibility of working remotely. This means, any place with reliable Internet is a potential destination. In fact, Luke’s been hacking away on our rideshare platform HitchPlanet from Guatemala for the last few months. A perfect excuse to come and visit.

The “digital nomad” lifestyle is becoming very popular; with better access to broadband Internet and a growing global fleet of freelancers and remote professionals, it’s very popular to work and travel these days.

We set up shop in Antigua at the local co-working centre, Impact Hub Antigua. The space was incredible: spanish-style courtyard with a fountain, views on three volcanoes and a private rooftop office with high-speed Internet (most of the time).

Our office was situated above a stunning courtyard with a fountain.


The view from the rooftop into the main courtyard of Impact Hub Antigua.

Our private office, I’d even brought my monitor on the plane from Canada.

Our private office, I’d even brought my monitor on the plane from Canada.


The Hub’s rooftop had long chairs with cushions to read and relax.


The view on Volcán de Agua from the rooftop.


I was visiting during the holiest time of the year, Easter. There were lots of religious events happening around Antigua, with visitors from all other Guatemala.

It was a nice change from the Easter bunnies, chocolate eggs and other Western gimmicks of North America and Europe.


To honour religious processions, locals prepare floral patterns on the streets (alfombras).

Religious groups carry out religious processions depicting scenes of the Bible.

Religious groups carry out religious processions depicting scenes of the Bible.

The processions walk over the “alfombras”, leaving carpets of colourful dust on the streets of Antigua.

The processions walk over the “alfombras”, leaving carpets of colourful dust on the streets of Antigua.

Guatemala has very fertile land thanks to its volcanic soil. Lots of organic farms, often started by foreigners, are run in the outskirts of the city. It’s always nice to leave the screen behind and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Luke and I posing in veggie gardens

Luke and I posing in veggie gardens

It’s amazing how refreshing it is to work from a new environment. Breaking the usual rhythm gets creative juices flowing and in turn increases quality of work.

The incredible community at the Hub made us realize we need to focus more on our own community. Success comes from caring, interacting and listening to people.

A big thank you to everyone there for making me feel at home, including Flavia, Cesar, Tyler, Ben, Emma, Aaron, Michelle and our new Guatemalan friends Ronnie and Geovani for their patience in listening to my broken Spanish (and our guitar strumming).

I’ll be back one day…

Sunset over the surrounding volcanoes: Acatenango (right) and Fuego (left)


My last sunset and a small eruption on Fuego

My last sunset and a small eruption on Fuego

We certainly enjoyed having these guys here and hosting such long working hours (along with music and stories from the northern country). We hope to have Flo back soon, and Luke for some more time.

Would you like to have your team working from the Impact HUB Antigua on a project, a team retreat or on your business strategy? Drop us a line at [email protected] and we’ll make it happen!

* This story was originally published on HitchPlanet’s blog. To read the whole story, go HERE.

A Startup weekend event was held at the Impact Hub and was a great success.

For photos and more description of the event please see our facebook post here:


(Sorry, below only available in Spanish)

¡El Startup Weekend Antigua estuvo increíble, muchas gracias por ser parte

del movimiento Change Maker!

Startup Weekend buscó generar un ecosistema de emprendimiento, además de

ser un evento de 54 horas con la finalidad de emprender ideas de negocio. Startup

Weekend Antigua (Change Makers) generó una experiencia colectiva, global y

simultánea, conectando comunidades de emprendedores, agentes de cambio y

líderes sociales alrededor del mundo.

La Dinámica

Los asistentes tuvieron  un espacio para trabajar durante un fin de semana entero.

Durante el primer día, los participantes propusieron sus ideas para la creación de

una ‘startup’, luego  se eligieron las mejores ideas para poderlas desarrollar.

Durante los dos siguientes días se trabajó en los proyectos por equipos para poder

presentar el último día ante un panel de jueces y potenciales inversionistas.

Los Equipos

Yolo Device: fue el ganador, gracias a su proyecto en beneficio de la seguridad

vial, un trabajo realizado en equipo y con muchas ganas de aportar al País.

Credit Vision: quedó como segundo lugar, cada uno de los integrantes del equipo

trabajaron para desarrollar una plataforma de información y aprendizaje financiero.

VerdiMaya: Se enfocaron a crear un sistema de entrega a domicilio de productos

provenientes de los mercados comunales con el fin de promover el comercio justo.

ContextSwitch: trabajaron fuertemente para lanzar en el mercado páginas de

internet mucho más eficientes, amigables y sobre todo económicas para los

hoteles y restaurantes de la Antigua Guatemala.

La Participación

Sobre el evento: 20 asistentes, 16 ideas lanzadas, 4 equipos formados, más de 10

patrocinadores, 5 mentores, el facilitador, el panel de jueces y todo el equipo


•        Organizadores: Flavia Ladino, César Tzián, Lucy Aguilar, Marina Chem,

José Carlos Tumax, Edwin Xico, Marie Amelie Laenerts, José Guirola, David

Yeah, Guillermo Sequeira y Ubdalí Salazar.

•        Patrocinadores: Impact HUB Antigua, Pomona Impact, Mercy Corps,

MicroMentor, Dela Gente Coffee, English Central, Número Central, Lúa Chips,

MAKEIT, Ecofltro, Café Barista, Teleprensa, Yaakun, Nexus Legal, Last Minute,

Pappy’s BBQ, EScuela de Negocios Arthur Lok Jack, Multi, Fair Fruit, Finca


•        Facilitador: Diego Ríos

•        Mentores: Diego Figueroa, Tyler Clark, Guillermo Sequeira, Cristina

Dominguez, Jose Julio Granados.

•        El Panel: Eliza Zaczkowska, Claudia Valenzuela, Philip Wilson, Richard


¿Cómo puedes mantenerte conectado?

 Sigue nuestra cuenta en Facebook:

 Sigue el hashtag en twitter #bethechange #changemaker para saber sobre

más eventos el próximo fin de semana alrededor del mundo

 Sigue el movimiento #changemaker en Facebook:


Autor:  Cesar Tzian


Technoserve; a business solution to poverty

Founded in the fine year of 1968 by Ed Bullard, Technoserve is an organization trying to fight poverty in

developing countries through competitive farms and businesses. How do they do this? Technoserve

provides solutions for poverty by linking people to markets, information, and capital.

Technoserve has worked in more than 40 countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including

Guatemala. As of now, Technoserve has partnered with over 12,000 small producers in Guatemala, of

which 300 are women-owned businesses in fields such as mushrooms, nuts, or recycling. One of the

most impressive projects being a two-year long pilot in which they helped farmers grow a plant known

as “Jatropha” which is used in the making of biodiesel. By growing this plant on land unsuitable for food

crops, farmers were able to capitalize on a new opportunity!

Technoserve is doing great things in Guatemala and the world, and is truly making an impact. Make sure

to check out their official webpage at for more details.


At any given moment throughout your day at a coworking space, you’re surrounded by professionals whose businesses might benefit your own. So, instead of researching and going online to find someone to help you out with a certain project, you simply have to walk around and strike up a conversation with a few people. This way, you can quickly and easily create a network of people who are working on projects similar to yours, and can help you out when you need it.

Professional opinions are close at hand:

This is the twin to networking, but is a bit less formal. When you’re surrounded by people of all different professions, it’s usually no too hard to ask the person next to you for a quick opinion on your new tagline, or asking the SEO guy down the hall to run over your work. It’s not good to bug people, mind you, but as the classical saying goes: Give and Ye shall receive. Keep an open mind to people asking for advice, and they are more likely to return the favor.

Client-friendly meeting places:

While working out of the house does seem like a fun thing to do, your kitchen is not the best place to hold a business meeting. In a coworking space, however, the conference rooms available to you are clean and quiet, perfect for meeting with other people. The schedules for these rooms are usually not too crammed, and they’re only a few feet away from your office.

Very low overhead for start-ups:

For a business that is just starting, renting a whole office and furnishing it is simply too expensive all too often. With a coworking space, rooms and memberships can be rented according to how many people are in the company, and at a much cheaper price than a whole personal office. This also benefits freelancers and self-employed people who have the same problem.

Keep yourself social and “out there”:

One of the biggest drawbacks to working at home, at cafés, or in small offices with only three or four people is that you often catch yourself feeling lonely, and craving even the smallest of conversations with other people. A coworking space is an incredibly easy cure for this, as you’re always surrounded by people, and even if you aren’t always in a sparkling conversation, I know firsthand that just having a social atmosphere around you where you can hear other people is often enough to brighten your day.


What do Guatemalans think of Bolivia? Bolivians of Guatemala? Outsiders of both? Impact Hub member Colin Scott, a

freelance applied research and program evaluation consultant, is looking to answer these specific yet important


When a foreigner moves to live in a new country for an extended period of time, his or her perception of

the country often changes over the course of his or her stay, and again if they go back

home. Colin has set up a study to examine this change in a person’s opinion of a country, and

he’s starting with Guatemala and Bolivia.

The study will focus on the factors in these countries that provide good or bad responses from people who move there,

and then apply the findings elsewhere. The data collected would be primarily used to help organizations adjust their

cross-cultural orientation programs, and their understanding of human behavior and mental processes under diverse

cultural conditions. For example, organizations might apply these insights in helping make the transition to a new country

as smooth and comfortable as possible for it’s staff and visitors.

The study currently has around twenty-five participating organizations. Data collecting has been going on for seven

months, starting in July of last year, and is to be completed by the end of 2015. After this study is over, Colin’s group

will consider repeating the study in another part of the world, such as Asia or Europe.

Colin is looking for people to participate in the study.  Anyone who either is moving to these countries, or will be in them

for at least one month, can participate.    Any nationality is fine as well.   The goal is to reach eighty participants per

country in the near future.   To take the survey,  just go to this link:

We wish Colin the best of luck, and look forward to learning more about the valuable lessons learned from his



NEW DISCOUNT FOR HUBSTERS! Meet our friends/new partners from On Board! They create awesome travel experiences for changemakers like you! Give a boost to your work while you travel, have tons of fun, learn and create a positive impact in yourself and the world! #ComeOnBoard Next trip in March in Colombia! Email Camilo Russi [email protected] for questions.

A transformative education project and outdoor mobile classroom where people, who come on board, will travel for one or two months in a foreign country. While traveling they will have meaningful learning experiences, community living and create an impact in the communities they visited.