Partnership is at the core of Green Empowerment’s mission. As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we are looking back on some of our longest-standing partnerships in the Philippines, lasting 20 years and counting.
How It All Started
Yamog Renewable Energy Development Group, Inc. (Yamog) and Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT) are two Green Empowerment partners in the Philippines working on community-owned and operated renewable energy systems for off-grid communities – Yamog in the Mindanao region, and SIBAT in Northern and Central Philippines.
It started in the early 2000s. Yamog reached out to Green Empowerment to ask about our micro-hydro projects in Nicaragua, which was shortly followed by a visit to the Philippines from our leadership team. A few years later, Green Empowerment met with SIBAT after hearing about their work on renewable energy systems.
Both partner organizations have similar roots, founded during a democracy movement in the Philippines that inspired civil society organizations to respond to the underserved needs of rural and indigenous communities. A part of this movement, our partner organizations were comprised of team members with backgrounds in community development. Beyond speaking the local language, they understood the plight of rural communities because they saw and lived these realities firsthand.
How the Partnership Evolved
Green Empowerment’s projects focused on building the technical capacity that our partners requested to deliver the energy needs of their target communities. Some examples of early projects with Yamog included connecting them to a pico-hydro survey training in Nepal (2001); a course on micro-hydro, turbines and electric controllers in Malaysia and Indonesia (2003); a training on solar energy (2005); and joint implementation of a solar water pumping system (2007). Green Empowerment also hosted SIBAT and Yamog on a tour of Oregon and Washington to connect them to prospective funding opportunities. For SIBAT, this led to funding and the acquisition of turbines and generators for a micro-hydro project with an indigenous community.
In an interview with Green Empowerment founder and then Executive Director Michael Royce in March 2010, Yamog reflected on their achievements since our first contact in the year 2000.
“By the end of 2005, in addition to the 21 solar projects, we had completed 10 micro hydro projects. Our technical level advanced much more, both through experience and because of the training we had received from our partners, particularly Green Empowerment.”Nazario “Nonoy” Cacayan, Previous Yamog Executive Director
Fast forward to 2022, SIBAT has now helped build 30 community-based micro-hydro systems across the Philippines, and Yamog is currently wrapping up an EU-backed project that extended renewable energy access to 4,000 households.
Our work together has evolved from capacity building to collaborating on technology research and innovation. As part of Green Empowerment’s Smart Grids for Small Grids program, we’ve been working closely with SIBAT on maximizing the benefits of their micro-hydro systems through locally manufactured electronic load controllers (ELC) and load management devices. More recently, we’ve started conversations with Yamog to collaborate on similar technologies.
The Value of Green Empowerment’s Partnership Approach
In the same conversation with Michael Royce, Nonoy from Yamog commented on Green Empowerment’s partnership approach:
“Our partnership with Green Empowerment has always been rooted in mutual respect. We share the same vision of community-based development. We have always valued and benefitted from the technology trainings and skill transfers conducted by Green Empowerment and hope that this will continue in the future.”Nazario “Nonoy” Cacayan, Previous Yamog Executive Director
Shen Maglinte, SIBAT Program Director, noted that the relationship between SIBAT and Green Empowerment has been “very respectful.”
“Initially we did not know your orientation, but later we saw you work just like SIBAT. Green Empowerment always acts with transparency, and we appreciate the consistency of the support. The quality of networking has been quite helpful to SIBAT.”Shen Maglinte, SIBAT Deputy Director
What’s Ahead for Green Empowerment Partnerships
In a recent partnership survey, our partners shared that support in continuous technical capacity building and adapting to current technologies remain a need that Green Empowerment is well positioned to address. More partners are also seeing potential gains from knowledge sharing activities – including learning from each other’s work in the field, brainstorming solutions and accelerating innovation through increased collaboration. Green Empowerment is keen to support these and stay adaptive to the needs of our partners.
As we implement our Next Level Vision for the next 25 years, Green Empowerment remains committed to enabling our partners by providing the support they need so that they can grow and scale on their own terms. We’re excited to keep doing this for the next 25 years and beyond.
By Geo Corneby, Green Empowerment’s SE Asia Program Director
Geo is an international development professional passionate about social justice and finding solutions that honor local community leadership. She brings experience in sustainable finance, inclusive business tactics, and climate-positive value chains to support our programs in Southeast Asia.