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He’s keeping the home fires burning

Tomorrow's executives demonstrate how they fuel entrepreneurial drive while in school

NJBIZ STAFF//May 30, 2011//

He’s keeping the home fires burning

Tomorrow's executives demonstrate how they fuel entrepreneurial drive while in school

NJBIZ STAFF//May 30, 2011//

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Vladimir De Delva
Rowan University

When Vladimir De Delva proposed his plan for Haiti Biofuels — a venture to make fuel from the oil of a tree that thrives on the island — at a business plan competition at Rowan’s Rohrer College of Business, it won first place.

But the Haitian chemical engineering major, who graduated earlier this month, first plans to go to work for a rum manufacturer to get experience in his home country, and launch Haiti Biofuels in his spare time.

De Delva, 24, said at Rhum Barbancourt, he will run a cogeneration plant that burns waste sugar cane to create electricity. Meanwhile, he plans to launch Haiti Biofuels about 30 miles outside Port-au-Prince, in a semiarid area he said is ideal to grow his feedstock. He said Haiti imports about 100 million gallons of diesel fuel a year; De Delva expects his biofuels to be a bargain compared with diesel.

“Haiti is a very depressing place; a lot of people are leaving,” he said. His parents have their own fuel distribution business on the island, and could afford to send him to New Jersey for college. He said most students leave for school and never return, “but if everybody leaves the country and doesn’t come back, what will happen? I love my country. I want to go back and help.”

He said the biofuels process he will employ is proven technology “but optimizing the process and getting a good yield is something else.” He intends to create jobs for farmers, who will plant trees, harvest the seeds, then sell him the seeds.

His parents are entrepreneurs who import and distribute propane, gasoline and kerosene, and have more than 20 employees. Even further back, he said, his grandfather had his own pharmaceutical import business.
“My parents think it’s great I want to be an entrepreneur — they are proud, and they push me,” he said.