Wes Meier & Greg McGrath EOS International on Shin Fujiyama Podcast

Two college buddies studying engineering–Greg Mcgrath and Wes Meier–started EOS International with no money. They had to travel on chicken buses, ox carts, and by foot for years in Nicaragua. Today, their NGO provides under-served communities with access to low-cost appropriate technologies that generate income, improve health, and preserve the environment. Together with other engineering students, they began working in Mali and in Nicaragua (where Wes served for the Peace Corps).

Learn how these two young social entrepreneurs built up EOS while they worked full-time. Learn how they distribute products and services that provide clean water, drip irrigation, biogas, fuel-efficient ovens, and solar power throughout Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Show Links for EOS International

Show Notes for EOS International

  • The challenges of having two founders
  • How they decided on job titles and responsibilities
  • Wes volunteered for the Peace Corps in Africa
  • Greg worked on marketing, logistics, getting the nonprofit status
  • What makes their significant others jealous
  • They were influenced early on by Paul Pollack, Muhamad Yunus, Martin Fisher
  • EOS International is focusing more on sustainable development over charity
  • Greg talks about their first project, their drip irrigation system and why it took way longer than expected
  • What it was like starting an NGO without basic tools, language skills, experience
  • Wes talks about his frustrations getting their nonprofit status and bank accounts set up in Nicaragua
  • The moment that Greg realized that a good idea and passion were not enough
  • How EOS International found their first Nicaraguan staff members, including the Country Director, Alvaro
  • Wes explains how the EOS biogas stove ($150/unit)  works, where a family can produce 5 hours worth of odorless methane gas for cooking with manure from one cow
  • How EOS International uses customer testimonials to market their appropriate technology products to new communities
  • How EOS allows customers to make monthly payments for their products
  • Greg shares the story of a failed solar oven project
  • Greg explains why it’s so important for their customers to pay a fee for the products instead of them receiving free handouts
  • “What is free has no value.”
  • Wes explains why their first drip irrigation was not utilized by the community–people did not feel ownership because they received the project for free
  • Wes explains how their water chlorinator ($100/unit) works using PVC pipes, chlorine tablets, and gravity to treat water for up to 1,000 people
  • The unpleasant taste of chlorinated water makes implementation and usage a challenge
  • Each water project design is unique because of terrain, available materials, etc. which makes standardization difficult
  • Greg talks about the toughest water project they tackled where multiple, elevated water barrels were involved
  • What it was like hauling barrels on the roofs of Nicaraguan chicken buses, ox carts, and on their backs back when they didn’t have vehicles nor money
  • What it was like when they couldn’t afford a $3,000 motorcycle to carry their supplies
  • The behind-the-scenes story behind EOS’s marketing, website, and logo design
  • Why EOS emulates the Charity: Water marketing model
  • How Wes was able to finally work for EOS full time, and the conditions that had to be met first
  • How Wes and Greg worked on EOS for 20 hours per week while they were both working other full-time jobs, their hustle and grind
  • “EOS was a full-time hobby”
  • How EOS fundraises successfully, using the help of family, friends, and individuals
  • Why the “Sponsor a Technology” fundraising model has been so successful
  • How EOS organizes regional fundraising hubs by leveraging their network