Using market forces to create social value

This week I wanted to share one of the many compelling stories from Beverly Schwartz’s “Rippling,” featuring a “changemaker” who uses market forces to create social value. “Far different from corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, these partnerships create a hybrid adaptation that establishes a profitable business for the sole purpose of supporting, fueling growth, and sustaining a social purpose,” says Schwartz.

Profit isn’t a dirty word
Schwartz adds  “profit is not a dirty word—if profits are recycled back into the business or used to sustain or increase employment or wages and provide access to opportunities for those who are marginalized, impoverished, or in temporary need.” The following is one of the social entrepreneurs who illustrate how to use market forces to create a ripple effect in her community’s pond.

Finding opportunities within the problem
Albina Ruiz is building a community-based solid waste management system that plays an important role in improving sanitation and health conditions in Peru and other countries in Latin America. Whenever children learn more about cleanliness it is always positive. Every stage of the waste management cycle creates employment and income, integrating business and social value throughout the entire process. Ruiz admits she was obsessed with the trash that seemed to overwhelm Lima. Heaps of trash were everywhere in the city streets, rivers and vacant lots.

Trash equals jobs
Albina realized the garbage represented people. For every piece of trash discarded there was a person behind it and in front of it. Where everyone, including the union, saw trash, she saw an opportunity to create jobs, improve public health and improve the environment.

• Albina designed a new type of small tricycle truck that could fit in the narrow, hilly streets and around the garbage blocking the roads.

• She enlisted households within the slums to become paid recyclers who would sort the organics for animals as well as recyclables like bottles, iron scraps, paper, plastic and anything else they could reuse.

• She formed an association of these local changemakers who would partner with the tricycle trash collectors and coincide with the public campaign that encouraged residents to wait for these small trucks to pick up their trash rather than throw it in the streets. Incredible and obvious ripple effects result from Albina’s efforts.

Furthermore, some of her recyclers now make handcrafted products from the recycled items and sell them to high-end stores. “Albina’s primary tool is employment, and she uses it by organizing the recylcers into income-generating micro-enterprises, a strategy built into every state of the waste management cycle,” says Schwartz.

If you’d like to learn more about other social entrepreneurs and how they developed a sustainable business model, join us on July 11 at 11 a.m. CST for our monthly author interview. Visit to register.

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