The Inventor-Entrepreneur as Pioneer, System Changer, and Role Model for Future Generations.
In many cities in developing countries, some of the lowest income individuals survive by collecting trash. Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow Albina Ruiz, through her organization Ciudad Saludable (Healthy City), organizes informal trash recyclers, so that they can earn a decent living. Her micro-enterprise model provides self-employment opportunities to local residents in poor neighborhoods who go door-to-door collecting garbage and fees, and educating people about respecting and protecting their environment.
ALBINA RUIZ [Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow and Founder, Ciudad Saludable]
This story of working in the field of waste management really began when I came from the jungle to Lima. I discovered there was plastic, that there was paper, there was cardboard, there were cans, and, more than anything, that there was a big problem with garbage. I also started to learn that the garbage was not just in the city, but it was also in the dumps, in the pig farms, in the outskirts of the towns, and people lived there, people who reclaimed paper, cardboard, and plastic to sell. And I discovered that this was a world of entrepreneurs. We need to think of a different system. Garbage is a medium.
Organized by Ciudad Saludable, the recyclers and the unemployed (mostly women who are heads of households) offer waste management services including transportation, treatment, and final disposal of waste.
Plastic bottles are placed inside the empty compartment and, through the manual compression system, the mass is reduced to 75 percent of the original volume, saving significant storage space. Inspired by a technology to crush aluminum cans, Ciudad Saludable developed a manual crushing machine with the help of Californian engineer Nisar Shaikh.
Where many see a problem in garbage, we see an opportunity. An opportunity to give jobs to improve the issue of the environment, to improve public health, an opportunity to create more social entrepreneurs. When we start to clean a city or a neighborhood the people organize themselves. People don't want to go backwards. People know they can be clean and demand to be clean.
Rippling created by Ashoka and the Magnum Foundation, with support from The Lemelson and Woodcock Foundations