Social entrepreneurship & finance

Tag ‘ environnement ’

Ciudad Saludable: The video report!

July 25, 2009 | Comments Off | Enterprises, Videos

Ciudad Saludable (healty City) is a NGO that develops micro-enterprises focusing on waste management in Lima. Founded by Albina Ruiz, Ciudad Saludable encourages and helps “recicladores” to organize themselves and create their micro-organisation. It has created 150 new jobs and Albina Ruiz pays a special attention to the self-estime and the dignity of the workers. Beside the trainings they give to the micro-entrepreneurs, Ciudad Saludable offers a technical and legal support and they developed an innovative microfinance system to finance the creation of micro-enterprises. After a successful experience in Peru, Albina is currently thinking how she could replicate her model in other countries such as India.

For more info, read Ciudad Saludable’s profile

Fair Street - Ciudad Saludable from Angalio Productions on Vimeo.

Our Peruvian report takes place in Lima where we met Albina Ruiz, founder and manager of Ciudad Saludable. Throughout our interview with Albina, we were really impressed by her enthusiasm and by her optimistic vision of the future. After this meeting, we have headed towards “El Pino”, one of Lima’s poorest neighbourhoods. There, we observed the work of the microentrepreneurs who drive all over the area with their tricycles to collect waste. The impact of Ciudad Saludable’s work is striking: despite the obvious poverty and the improvised buildings, we visited a clean neighbourhood dotted with green areas where it feels nice to move around.

Problematic and context:

Waste management is a major issue in Peru. The funding that the different governments allocate to this matter are insufficient and are mostly concentrated on the richest neighbourhoods. The demographic explosion in the main cities has also worsened the situation. The Peruvian households alone produce 20.000 tons waste daily. Among this waste, only 60% are collected and 35% treated appropriately. In the poorest areas where private associations do not intervene, some streets look like open sky dumps, the air is unbreathable, and the waste negatively impacts the hygiene and the health of the communities.

The inefficiency of the public services in the destitute areas is mainly caused by the lack of integration of the poorest populations within the legal system and the lack of political will to tackle the problem head on. Often without declared address and valid ID documents, the state does not have the opportunity to control the destitute citizens. Also, many politicians believe that the poor are not able to pay for a collection service. Once in a situation of free rider, the municipalities do not have enough means to cover all the areas and the waste excess start accumulating quickly in different places of the area.

The materials accumulated in these dumps represent a source of revenue for the poorest people. Improvising themselves “recicladores” go around these open sky dumps looking for plastic or paper that they can resell for a small amount of money (+/- $2 per day) to an intermediary who sells these materials to a recycling centre. These “recicladores” work in really bad conditions, without gloves, protection masks and working pants. Moreover, the “recicladores” are regularly persecuted by the local police who do not accept their activity. Finally, as they work alone during the night, the “recicladores” are often victim of the violence of the local gangs.

The initiative:

Ciudad Saludable (Healthy City) is an NGO which favours the development of microenteprises that collect and recycle waste in Peru. Ciudad Saludable regroups “recicladores” formally by organising them within microenterprises. Practically, Ciudad Saludable helps them in the legal work needed in the creation of a company, provides them a logistic support and enables them to finance the tools needed for their activity by giving them access to microcredit at very attractive conditions. This relatively simple model has revolutionised waste management in Peru and has improved the living conditions of millions of destitute people.

The organisation of the “recicladores” has several advantages: firstly, by regrouping the output of their daily labour, the “recicladores” together a larger amount of waste that they can directly sell to a recycling centre at a much better price, not using any intermediary. This quantity effect is enhanced by the Ciudad Saludable’s financial support that enables them to acquire tools increasing their productivity such as trucks, motorised tricycles.

Secondly, by providing appropriate equipment (helmet, gloves, working pants…) to its “recicladores”, Ciudad Saludable allows them to collect waste in better hygiene and safety conditions and in greater dignity. Ciudad Saludable gives a great importance to the self-esteem and the dignity of its workers. Therefore, they have to buy their own equipment through a system of microcredit developed in collaboration with Scotia Bank. In this context, they are not assisted but buy themselves the tools that will improve their condition.

On the field, the microenterprises collect the waste of the households that have accepted to subscribe to the services of Ciudad Saludable. The cost of the subscription is $1 per month. To encourage the people of the neighbourhood to contribute, Ciudad Saludale does a lot of sensibilisation stressing the interest of waste collection and the positive impact of a clean neighbourhood on children’s health. Ciudad Saludable also rewards the “good contributors” by creating green areas close to their houses. Today, the payment rate in the areas where Ciudad Saludable is working is over 60% and that rate is constantly increasing.

The creation and the assistance of micro-entreprises is Ciudad Saludable’s main program. However, Ciudad Saludable has other fields of activity: they offer consultancy services to different cities in Peru to help them improving their waste management. They have also created an innovative program enabling the production of gas using the excrements of pigs that feed themselves of organic waste.

Finally, Ciudad Saludable has developed a master in environmental management in collaboration with “l’Universidad Católica del Peru” in Lima. The goal of this master where Albina Ruiz and some of her collaborators teach different classes, is to generalise waste management solutions in Peru.

In the mid-term, Albina Ruiz’s objective is to replicate her model of micro-entreprises to all cities of Peru and to other countries in South-America. Deeply affected by a recent trip in India, Albina Ruiz also made a priority of adapting her model to that country.

The entrepreneur:

Albina Ruiz, the founder of Ciudad Saludable, grew in the Peruvian Jungle. Aged 18, she leaves to Lima where she is shocked by the amount of waste in the streets and by the air contamination. She quickly decides to fight this plague and launches several cleaning campaigns within her university.

Then, she will do her thesis on the management of micro-enterprises and the environmental management in the poor areas of Lima. This thesis will trigger a lot of interest among her teachers. This enthusiasm will encourage her to put her theories into practice and she decides shortly after to create Ciudad Saludable. Her model and her innovations have been awarded numerous times ; among others, Albina has been elected “Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the World Economic Forum”, she has received the “Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship” and she is an Ashoka fellow.

Social Impact:

The 13 micro-enterprises launched by Ciudad Saludable employ 150 people. Ciudad Saludable operates in 60 Peruvian municipalities, enabling the collection of 100% of the waste in the areas where it is active. By collecting waste and favouring the adoption of respectful behaviours, Ciudad Saludable’s different micro-enterprises have improved the living conditions of 4 million people.

Ciudad Saludable’s work has also had a huge influence on the Peruvian government. Recently, the company has been an important actor in the creation of the first General Law on solid waste in Peru.

Finally, through its master in environmental management, Ciudad Saludable has enabled more than 5,000 students to master in the field. Today, all these students have the skills to be the actors of the environmental change initiated by Albina Ruiz.

Financial impact:

The micro-enterprises are managed by destitute people living in the neighbourhoods where they operate. These people generally do not have access to the loans of “classic” banks and find it therefore very difficult to finance the purchase of additional material. To tackle this problem, Ciudad Saludable has developed a microcredit program with the Canadian Bank Scotia Bank. As Albina found the normal interest rates proposed by the microcredit institutions way to high, (between 30 and 40% annually) Albina created a special fund that Ciudad Saludable guarantees with a deposit of $30,000 at the Scotia Bank. With the guarantee to be reimbursed and not having to deal with the follow up of the loans, Scotia Bank offers credit at a much lower annual interest rate (12%).

In 2006, Ciudad Saludable has obtained a $615,000 grant from the Skoll Foundation after having received the “Skoll Award For Social Entrepreneurship” awarding the quality of the innovations. This grant enabled Ciudad Saludable to gain scale, to improve the quality of its support to the micro-enterprises and to accelerate the expansion process to other countries of South America.

Ciudad Saludable, by developing innovative solutions, has met the challenge to create “healthy cities”. Now surrounded by a skilled and optimist management team, Albina Ruiz wishes to extend her model to all the Peruvian cities and to export it abroad.

E+Co: Energy through enterprises

June 12, 2009 | Comments Off | Financial Agents

E+Co supported Sobre La Roca in 2005 with a loan of $20,000. This financial support has triggered Sobre La Roca’s recent impressive development during which the company saw its sales increase by 300%.

Created 15 years ago, E+Co is an American venture fund that exclusively supports entrepreneurs active in the clean energy business in developing countries. E+Co is convinced that there is a demand for clean and affordable energy in developing countries and that this demand can be satisfied by local entrepreneurs. Furthermore, this fund is a great example that an efficient financing in clean energy can have a significant impact on the environmental situation of our planet.

Today, E+Co invests in more than 200 companies. For a total of $28.8m, 88% of its investments are debt whereas the remaining 12% are in equity. E+Co’s investments vary between $20,000 and $1,000,000.

The majority of these investments is in Africa and in South America. On the technological side, solar energy constitutes the main field of investment focusing with 32% of the portfolio.

E+Co has a very clear investment strategy guided by the following principles:

The business idea of the activities in which they invest:

1) Must be well defined and involve capable people

2) Should employ approaches to energy production, use or finance using established affordable, reliable technologies that move communities up the energy ladder

3) Must offer clear social and environmental benefits, while being competitive with conventional alternatives

4) Must have the potential to be economically self-sufficient and offer growth potential

For E+Co, capturing the impact of the investments is critical to demonstrating the effectiveness of its approach. To calculate the return on investment, E+Co measures its clean energy businesses across 34 social, environmental and financial indicators. E+Co collects data from each investee company biannually and then compiles the results into an organizational summary called an Impacts Table.

Since its creation, E+Co has enabled 4.8m people to use clean energies. E+Co’s investments have also made possible the reforestation of 335,000 trees as well as a reduction of 4.6m in CO2 emissions. Everything put together, all E+Co’s actions saved $11.2m.


Sobre La Roca: Cooking with the sun

June 12, 2009 | Comments Off | Enterprises

Our first reporting on the Bolivian soil takes place in Cochabamba. We came to Cochabamba earlier than expected to meet Ruth Saaverda, our entrepreneur, before she was leaving on holiday for one month. This interview has been incredible: in addition to our interview with Ruth, we had the chance to attend a demonstration of the product in the Bolivian countryside. After a three hours-long journey through muddy roads, we got to a community of miners where we discovered the numerous advantages of the solar cooker.


The environment: Families living in rural areas in Bolivia usually do not have a proper access to gas and electricity. As a consequence, they are forced to use firewood to cook. UNICEF estimates that in developing countries, more than 80% of the wood is used to cook.  On average, this translates into a yearly consumption of 100kg of wood per month per family. This intensive use of wood, in addition to emitting destructive gazes such as CO2, participates considerably to the deforestation in these countries (10% of the deforestation could be avoided thanks to the use of solar cooking).

Women emancipation: Cooking can strongly complicate the life of women, if they do not have the appropriate technology. Women in rural regions are often forced to walk several hours per day to bring wood back home. This harassing task prevents them from working and to participate to the economic and social life.


In Bolivia, 40% of the population lives in isolated rural zones and is not properly served in energy. Moreover, as their access to technology is limited, the people situated at the « Base of the Pyramid » generally use rudimentary cooking methods. The Bolivian Altiplano, where Sobre La Roca’s activities are concentrated, is an ideal location for the use of solar energy: it is at more than 3000 meters of altitude and enjoys 300 sunny days per year.

The company;

Headquartered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, Sobre La Roca was founded in 1997 to produce and distribute solar cookers to the Bolivian farmers living in rural areas. The solar cooker is a thermal box constituted of different mirrors that reflect solar rays within the box. The good insulation of the box enhances heat conservation enabling temperatures of 150°C and therefore making it possible to cook all kind of dishes. Solar cookers are easy to build which allow Sobre La Roca to sell them at the attractive price of €50.

Sobre La Roca has also developed complementary activities. It has launched awareness campaigns on the ecology. It also offers trainings to teach Bolivian families how to use the solar cooking and to improve their food habits. The company is in a growth phase: if up to now, Sobre La Roca has already sold 5000 solar cookers and educated more than 2400 women, it should reach the number of 10,000 solar cookers sold by the end of 2009.

The entrepreneur:

Ruth Saveerda de Whitfield is a Bolivian social entrepreneur living in Cochabamba. Convinced of the potential of solar cookers, she dedicated her life to Sobre La Roca that she founded 12 years ago. The first years of Sobre La Roca have been very difficult. During this period, Ruth did not hesitate to visit to the most isolated regions of Bolivia and to meet local communities to promote her product. In 2004, as the company was close to go bankrupt, Ruth and her husband conceded huge sacrifices which allowed Sobre La Roca to survive. Believing that “real” value relies in Sobre la Roca’s mission, they went until selling their wedding valuables.

Social Impact:

The use of the solar cookers contributes to the environmental, social, sanitary and economic development. Firstly, solar cookers favour nature preservation as 500 cookers enable the preservation of 5000 acres of forest per year without any CO2 emissions. Secondly, solar cookers, given the time savings they allow, enhance the women social and economic emancipation. They can indeed allocate time to other activities instead of spending hours to collect wood and watch out the cooking of their dishes. Lastly, cooking with solar energy increases the nutritive value of the meals as it leaves more vitamins within the ingredients giving them a higher nutritive power.

Beyond its product, Sobre La Roca has a positive social impact throughout its value chain. The basic elements of the social cookers are built in a prison of Cochabamba as part of a reinsertion program for prisoners

Financial impact:

E+Co’s support: During the first years, Ruth Saveedra financed Sobre La Roca with her own money. Her launching strategy consisted in offering 10 solar cookers to different farmers in order to measure their social impact and to promote the product. Then, the company grew through auto financing; the profits generated by the sales of its cookers were reinvested and allowed it to grow but at a limited pace.

After 7 years, Sobre La Roca had sold 2,500 cookers. However, the financial situation of the company became not sustainable as it had to renew its infrastructures with no capital to do so. The social investment fund « E+Co », believing in Sobre La Roca’s future and potential, backed the company with a $20,000 loan refundable in 3 years. This loan enabled Sobre La Roca to increase its production capacity and to reach a larger proportion of customers. The total impact of the loan is striking as it triggered a 300% growth of the production and gave the possibility to Sobre La Roca to convert into a small enterprise owning its own infrastructure.

E+Co’s support has been decisive in Sobre La Roca’s economic development and in the extension of its social mission.

The use of microfinance: The price of the solar cooker is 50€. While being affordable, this price remains too high for some people at the « Base of the Pyramid ». To cope with this situation, Sobre La Roca, collaborated with E+Co and created a fund that proposes micro credit loans. Moreover, Sobre La Roca is currently building a strategic alliance with FIE, a leading microfinance institution in Bolivia, whose broad network of agencies will ease the access to capital for many people and consequently ease the acquisition of solar cookers.


Interview with Jorge Gronda, founder CEGIN and SER System




The first company that we presented aimed at solving the problem of waste management in big cities such as Buenos Aires. Recycling programs, renewable energy developments, and other initiatives promoted by Fair Street will share this interest in environmental issues.

World Environment Day on June 5th will recognize the major challenge facing our planet. In this context, photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand will mark the day by releasing his new film HOME, which aims at making us all aware of this issue by showing what is left of our planet and why it is necessary to preserve it.

Home will be freely available on the Internet from June 5th. Watch the trailer!


“In 200,000 years on Earth, humanity has upset the balance of the planet, established by nearly four billion years of evolution. The price to pay is high, but it is too late to be a pessimist: humanity has barely ten years to reverse the trend, become aware of the full extent of its spoliation of the Earth’s riches and change its patterns of consumption.”


HOME - A film by Yann Arthus Bertrand from CoolPlanet 2009 on Vimeo.

CO2 neutral

May 1, 2009 | Comments Off | Travelogue, FairExchange, Videos

It is essential nowadays to take into account the impact of our actions upon the environment. That is why Fair Street is CO2 neutral for all transport-related emissions! Watch this great video directed by Angalio Production and CO2logic to learn more about global warming.

Climat Change from Angalio Productions on Vimeo.