#HumansofImpactHub Wesley Meier

by Kate Lucas

“When I was a kid I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up, ‘cause that’s what my older brother wanted to be. I thought this meant someone who drove a train. Later, I learned it meant someone who designed things, and that was an even better fit—I grew up on a farm in Iowa and always loved building, destroying, and fixing things. I ended up going to Iowa State to study mechanical engineering. But I still think trains are pretty cool.”

Wes’s kid self would be proud to know he’s never lost sight of his early love for building things. He now runs a nonprofit called EOS International, which builds and promotes useful, affordable technologies for rural families in Central America. The organization specializes in low-cost and high-impact solutions that improve lives, especially in the areas of health, wealth, and the environment.

One example is a water chlorinator, made of all locally-sourced materials, that can treat water for up to 1,000 people in a community. Another is a wood-burning oven, made with a metal barrel and bricks, that is 90% more efficient than traditional ovens in the area. In all, the organization has a portfolio of five products.

The inspiration for EOS International, which Wes co-founded, started during his Peace Corps service in rural Nicaragua. He noticed that technologies existed that would be super helpful for rural families, but what was missing was access, and an understanding of the impact they could have.

That’s where EOS International comes in. They source materials for a given technology, manufacture it locally in Nicaragua, educate people about it, install it, and get it into the hands of people who need it. And their products have clearly caught on. Since 2008, EOS International has reached 240,000 people, and they have done so mostly with small donations from individual donors, many who give $25 or less. On their website, you can check out an impressive map of every installation they’ve done, tagged with GPS coordinates.

Kate Lucas

Kate Lucas

Kate Lucas is a writer, poet, and teacher based in Minneapolis. She has written for nonprofits for more than a decade, including Common Hope, Little Free Library, and Partners in Food Solutions, and she has taught writing as an adjunct faculty member at several Minnesota colleges and universities. Her poems, essays, and articles have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Copper Nickel, LUMINA, 111O, Minnesota Alumni, and the anthology From the Pews in the Back. She holds an MFA from Hamline University.