Our second full day in Buenos Aires meant a visit to another important partner – The Working World. They are a unique organization, based in Argentina for the last five years, supporting co-operative businesses through access to low-interest loans and business acumen. If you’d like to learn more about The Working World, check out the video here – http://tinyurl.com/2fkw475.
Today Brendan Martin, The Working World’s president, seen above with the Waste for Life core team, discussed many topics with us that subtended the entire process of launching of the cartonero co-ops as manufacturing entrepreneurs – market research, sales targets, PR strategies, the project pilot, and contingency plans for possible outcomes of the loan. With hundreds of loans under their belt and an improbably high 98% payback rate, The Working World are a valuable resource for us in learning how to get co-operative businesses (also known as democratic businesses) to succeed. Though the cartonero co-operatives don’t resemble typical business owners, many that we have spoken to are naturally tenacious and extremely motivated; by leveraging The Working World’s experience we can give them the best possible chance to write their own success story.
We settled on a plan to research possible local markets, narrow down the number of products we are considering for pilot production runs and develop a business plan that would pass The Working World’s normal criteria for approving a loan.
It was really helpful to see Brendan in person after months of conversing and emailing – and for anyone who donated during the October fundraising campaign, this is exactly where your money comes into play!
Though we are awaiting a quote from our equipment supplier, it looks as though we have raised enough money to issue one Hotpress loan – which will be administered through The Working World as our pilot. This means we are one crucial step closer to getting the cartoneros set up with their own HotPresses. This is an extremely exciting phase of the project, but we must make sure we have everything in place to assure that the pilot run is successful and sustainable first – and there is still a lot to do.
One interesting idea was the possibility of recruiting tourists who come to Buenos Aires (some 5 million each year) to help us out, thus allowing us to take part in the ‘voluntourism’ movement! We believe that our products will appeal most to the visiting tourist who appreciates the story behind the products, and everything that Waste for Life is doing. It’s a difficult prospect to start a business with minimal capital, but we are rich in ideas and motivation and as the very inspired October fundraising campaign centred in Toronto showed us – rich in support!
More on the October fund-raising campaign – and our ever-present quest to raise the funds to get us started – soon.