For six weeks in the summer of 2019, I will be volunteering at the Green Banana Paper facility in Kosrae (pronounced Kosh-rye), an island in the Federated States of Micronesia.
I will be teaching and coaching them on Lean Six Sigma to improve their manufacturing and business processes.
You can follow my Instagram page for daily updates while I’m there. I’ll also post major updates, summary results and progress on this page.
Here is a little more about the company, and why I’m excited to help them out…
- They sustainably manufacture world-class vegan products from agricultural banana waste. Usually the banana plant stems are left to decay in the jungle as a waste byproduct of the fruit harvest. They bring the harvested banana stems to their eco-factory where they turn them into paper. and ultimately into a product.
- They are located on the northeast corner of the island, where the sun and tradewinds dry the fibers naturally. They collect rainwater from their roof to make the paper. They boil the fibers in a soda ash solution which goes into the grey-water tank to be neutralized prior to re-entering the soil.
- They are creating valuable jobs on the island, and they are continuing to grow year over year. They also hope to replicate their sustainable manufacturing model on other islands throughout the Pacific.
- Developing a business in Micronesia is critical for transitioning away from reliance on the US for funding.
I found out about them during their Kickstarter campaign for making banana leaf wallets, and ordered two of them.
October 2018 – In a newsletter, they asked for volunteers to come out and spend at least a month with them, in exchange for a place to stay and some spending money. I jumped at the opportunity! I agreed to come out there in late May, and stay through early July.
November 2018 – I also noticed that they can make business cards, so I ordered 100 banana paper leaf business cards.
CUSTOM PRODUCTS FOR BPI – These products were designed by BPI, and manufactured at the Green Banana Paper facility using their reclaimed banana tree products.
2/28/23 – I returned to Kosrae after the pandemic, to see what new was going on, and there were a lot of changes. The paper wallets are being discountinued (aside from special orders only), and the factory is transforming into a hotel, while still retaining some of the t-shirt business. The pandemic destroyed their customer demand due to lack of conferences, in-person events and a shutdown of tourism to the island. The new hotel is called Island Hopper Hotel and I recommend you check it out if you’re visiting the island. On this trip, I helped them design their website and add some features and functionality to it.
11/6/20 – Here is the presentation I gave at the IISE Annual Virtual Conference in 2020, sharing some highlights from my improvement work at GBP.
8/3/19 – Finally finished the travel video for my trip, which shows all the stops I made, the airline mechanical problem that re-routed my trip, and all the island take-offs and landing. I think you’ll enjoy it!
7/6/19 – I’m back in the US from my trip. I was hoping I could upload videos during my stay, but the internet was so slow that videos were nearly impossible. I have photos and some PPT slides I’m going make into a video. If you’re on our mailing list (join in the yellow box on the right side of this website), I’ll email out the videos when ready.
5/24/19 – Here is a presentation I gave at the IISE Annual Virtual Conference, explaining my trip plans in more detail, and the bigger challenges and opportunities that island nations face.
3/31/19 – Here is a video where I show the business cards, and discuss the upcoming visit I’ll be making in the summer of 2019.
Want to learn more about Lean and Six Sigma tools, and apply them to an improvement projects? Check out these low-cost online courses and certification programs
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