Recycling to Empower Women

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Recycling to Empower Women

Managua, NicaraguaLondon, United Kingdom
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Earth Education Project (EEP) was set up in Nicaragua in 2009, by myself, Andrea Paltzer, to provide women living in impoverished and isolated communities with the education and training they need to break the cycle of poverty their families faced. In the last 5 years EEP has designed and implemented a set of educational programmes for women. These programmes are based around an income opportunity, given in the form of scholarships. EEP runs a recycling workshop where we provide women with an income in order for them to learn an artisan skill and attend compulsory education and social programmes. The scholarships act as an incentive to join the EEP programme. Our compulsory education programme gives women the skills they need to integrate into Nicaraguan society and find a stable job. We have a waiting list of four times our current capacity of women who would like to join the training programme. 95% of the women who successfully complete the EEP programme have a full time job or were able to start their own business. The artisan products the women learn to make – stationary and jewellery from recycled materials - are sold by EEP on-line, through distributors and at fairs under our own label ‘Chureca Chic’. The revenue helps to part-fund our programmes. Our aim is to become self - funding thorugh the sales of these products. The next step for us is to further connect the Chureca Chic label to international markets and establish partnerships with retailers and increase our customer base. 

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

- empower women to become agents of change in their communities regardless of their educational background. - create income opportunities -recycle Our workshop combines all of these solutions in the following manner: provide an income opportunity for women recycling scrap paper to create a product that we sell to run our compulsory education programmes. The income opportunity is coupled with a compulsory education programme that focuses on literacy and social skills to empower women. We set up a paper recycling chain with local businesses, schools and individuals where there was previously no system. Educating on environmental issues and stemming rubbish entering the municipal rubbish dump.
Contact Details
Earth Education Project
About Your Organization
Organization Name

Earth Education Project

Organization Country

, LND, London

Country where this project is creating social impact

, MN, Managua

About You
First Name


Last Name


Job Title


List additional team members who would be involved in this project:

Andrea Paltzer (UK)
Silvia Mendez (Nicaragua)
Ana Gonzalez (Nicaragua)

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About Your Organization
What are your primary products/services? Please describe all.

We run a paper recycling workshop in the largest rubbish dump in Central America. We give women the opportunity to earn an income creating paper jewellery and stationary and at the same time they attend a compulsory education programme. We sell the products and aim to be self funding by 2016.

Who is your primary audience, customer or beneficiary?

Our beneficiaries are women living in high risk areas who are socially excluded and lack the eduction to get a stable job. Our clients of the Chureca Chic label are eco conscious consumers and those looking to make a statement and be part of global change in sourcing practice through fashion choices

How do your products/services benefit this population?

Our participants are empowered through recycling & alternative education programmes to address their challenges and that of their community and society as a whole. The long term goal is to replicate our workshop by training women to run their own cooperatives and connect them up to international markets.
For our clients we are create a sustainable product & supply chain for retailers who may have never sourced from a cooperative vendor

How many staff do you have (full and part-time)?

In Nicaragua we have 1 full time & 1 part time staff member. In the UK we have 1 full time staff member thanks to a grant

Impact and Sustainability
Organization Mission: What problem is your organization committed to solving? In particular, describe what is innovative about your approach.

We tackle
- barriers faced by girls to get an education
- unemployment
- waste
In Nicaragua 45% of girls do not finish primary school they lack the education and social skills they need to enter the labour market in Nicaragua. As a result, they join the informal labour force, have unstable incomes and don’t have access to social and medical benefits. EEP created a pioneering model that matches an income with an integrated curriculum building women’s skills as business leaders. We aim to become a global example to women’s empowerment, recycling and global sourcing practices.

Impact: What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Virgina was illiterate aged 31. 3 years after joining our workshop she can read & write and has started her own community business. We recognise that income alone can't solve long-term problems. Our model is a unique way to address the systematic problem of lack of education leading to a lack of income and earning potential. Local schools & businesses recycle with us when previously there was no system in place. This paper is recycled by women enrolled in our programme who receive an income making the Chureca Chic paper products. They are also enrolled in our compulsory education programme which includes: Literacy, Computing, Child & Family Health, Nutrition and Social Skill Development. All funded by the product sales and donations.

Impact: What is your projected impact after receiving consulting support from American Express?

Since 2009 we have successfully fund-raised and built a good base market connecting Chureca Chic to consumers outside of Nicaragua. What we need now is the opportunity to scale up and increase our impact, which we will achieve with this support from American Express.
Receiving support in social media strategies and campaigns as well as support on financial planning would enable us to achieve the following:
-Expand our client base for Chureca Chic
-Build an industry-level design program to offer designer-quality products to reach new markets
-Increase the number of partner organizations (CSR & NGO)
-Expand our working capital fund to set up the first women run recycling workshops & connect them up to international markets
-Strengthen our training programs

Sustainability: Do you currently have the financial and human resources to implement new strategies or recommendations offered through this partnership, or would implementation be dependent on receiving additional funding? Please describe.

We do have the capacity to implement new strategies as this is what we are looking for from this opportunity; the best ways to scale up and increase our impact within our current budget and team. We recognize that these strategies need to come from fresh minds outside our organization and through partnerships. This opportunity would allow us to achieve this goal and succeed in our mission and vision.

Project Selection
Select your first choice project

Social Media Roadmap

Select your second choice project (Optional)

Financial Planning

Are you or an assigned project manager from your team able to commit 3-5 hours per week over the 10-week consulting period?


Financial Planning
Why did you select this specific project type?

We are slowly expanding our projects and we need help working out the feasibility of our projected budgets.

What financial modeling/management challenges are you facing?

At the moment our model is very much that of a charity but to become sustainable we have set the goal of making our social enterprise label the key source of funding. This requires a different financial plan and budget. Within our team we do not have the knowledge to do this on our own.

Are you interested in assistance for your organization overall or for a specific product/service? Please explain.

Overall with focus on the 2014 - 2016 plan for expansion and realising financial sustainability through sales and partnerships.

What are you trying to accomplish by improving this area of your operations?

We're looking to have an achievable financial plan to compliment our growth period and goal for us to become self -funfing

If you were to receive support, what is your expected outcome at the end of the consulting period?

-Increase financial capability of the team
-Have a model that we can adapt as the organisation grows
-Improve our financial monitory and reporting
-Expand our working capital fund

How will support in this area allow you to deepen your impact?

With a solid financial model we will be able to scale our solution and form new partnerships to benefit new communities in Nicaragua, strengthen our training programs and expand our working capital fund to set up the first women run recycling workshops & connect them up to international markets.

Social Media Roadmap
Why did you select this specific project type?

We tick all the boxes for why we should pick this project type. We need a strategy to expand our support base and client base through these means. We believe social media is the future for small businesses but we lack the social media know how in our team to capitalize on this communication medium.

What challenges are you facing with your social media outreach strategy?

We have a small team and social media often gets left as the last thing to do and therefore we do not have a communications strategy for social media. We don't know how to grow your follower ship through social media and attract new customers.

Which social media channels are you currently using (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)? Please list and provide links and URLs.
Are you interested in reviewing your social media communications strategy for the organization overall or for a specific product/service? Please explain.

We would appreciate advice on our strategy as a whole with focus on the 2014 - 2016 aim to increase our customers for Chureca Chic and donor base for the Earth Education Project.

What are you trying to accomplish through improved social media outreach?

- Increase our followers
- Increase Chureca Chic sales
- Partner with a high-end designer/retailer to offer designer-quality products to reach new markets
- Be a strong voice in the debate on changing sourcing pattern of the fashion industry
- Expand our working capital fund

If you were to receive support, what is your expected outcome at the end of the consulting period?

For the team to have the knowledge to develop social media strategies for specific projects, to have an effective social media comunications strategy as an organisation, to increase followers and the demand for the Chureca Chic products which will allow us to scale up and increase our impact

How will support in this area allow you to deepen your impact?

More support for our work and demand for the products will enable us to educate more women in Nicaragua and acheive our long term goal of replicating our workshop by training women to run their own cooperatives creating a self funding training programme and sustainable women led entities.