Together we take care of Our Football Field, Our Marketplace

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Together we take care of Our Football Field, Our Marketplace

Organization type: 
for profit
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

In Cuevas, young people have joined forces with farming families to maintain a common space that can be used for playing sports and for holding local Farmer’s Markets and Produce fairs. With this project, we are promoting simple rules to build a meaningful space of trustworthy and inclusive trade and joy, as fundamental aspects of a healthy and resilient community life. This has been silently generating real wealth in Cuevas.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Our main problem was that we didn't have our own field to play. There was no real field where to play as locals. We had to go to Palermo (4km away) or Achiras (almost 10km away), or Samaipata (20km), or Mairana (35km). Our landscape is mostly mountainous, so most games were played on slopy fields, or at the school cement multifunction court. But the real problem apparently has nothing to do with football. People in Cuevas and neighboring towns are buying their own products after sending it to travel at least 250 km. It's huge paradox. All families in Cuevas and other communities are used to buying most of their food at Samaipata's marketplace (20km away). When asked about where they buy all the products sold on Samaipata's marketplace, the cholitas (saleswomen that) answer is "at Abasto", that's the main marketplace in Santa Cruz city (130km away). All farmers in Cuevas take their products to Santa Cruz city marketplace. People living in the region of Samaipata (including Cuevas) buy products from Cuevas, that have traveled at least 250km, when they should be traveling a walking or biking distance.

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

We are improving local family economies in our region by anchoring the growth of our own marketplace into our passion for playing sports. Organizing ourselves for football brings better business conditions for our local products. It's that simple. One field to train multiple fundamental values and skills. we build trust and negotiation skills taking care of our football field, which is used also as a regional marketplace (before we didn’t have such shared place for doing sports, business, and other activities). People take care of their football fields, we are associating that passion to our growing marketplace. Especially when we've craved for having our own football field for years and just found "a way" to have it. That craving paves the way for having a marketplace that can strengthen our local capacity to organize ourselves and get better trading conditions and due information regarding negotiations, prices, volumes, etc. Having our own marketplace has ramifications, since we can stockpile more products to increase our local need to learn how to reach more demand, negotiate, and register our performance. Having our own football field has even more ramifications. Young people are migrating to the cities not only because they don't have monetary income in the rural areas, but also because they are getting bored and disconnecting themselves from sources pride and ownership-gut-feelings. Having fun is critical for generating value anywhere in the world, men and women of all ages are enjoying the process.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We have lots of men and women of all ages doing things in and around a football field. From playing to selling and doing business, cheering to cooking and eating, and most of all thinking how to manage residues and prevent litter to "take over" our field. There are 3 active local teams of young and adult men, 1 local team of young women, plus school teams. Between Cuevas and neighboring communities from 20 Km around, championships involve 6 to 12 teams. Usually there are 3 to 5 competitions per year, plus every sunday afternoon football rules and everyone goes to play or watch. The local community has 200 people, plus 1000 more people in near-by communities. And more producers and football teams want to play sports and sell their harvests on our marketplace in Cuevas. Our area of influence include all valley people, which reaches 30thousand living in the valleys of Santa Cruz, plus 100thousand living in the main city. But the main impact is not the number of people, but how the young are willing to make things happen. They understand that each time they play the attract local men and women, young and old, to take part on the valley social life, and economic life. On my side, the most relevant part is that clear rules are being set and agreed upon in order to think using a marketplace, and generating value and having plenty of fun from it. The real trophy, is to have intertwined so many different interests and given them a prolific shared direction.
About You
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Section 1: About You
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Rojas Elbirt





Section 2: About Your Organization
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Your idea
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Do you have a patent for this idea?


· We made a deal to use a private piece of land as our football field. With a "contract" that involved agreeing mutually on rules and reviewing the deal every 3 months.
· The first three foundational "rules of trust" each person has to agree in order to step inside the field, are: 1) the best way to clean is not to litter, 2) cleaning is part of the game, 3) first we work together, then we play together
· Members of local teams took turns to: clean away all thorns and ant-nests, leveling the field, putting plaster to set the football field lines.
· The School principal and the president of the parent's school board, arranged so that students may train on the field certain days. By training football on this field, they train themselves in gaining ownership in waste management rules and collaborative thinking.
· Farmers are organizing themselves to set a Farmer’s Markets and Produce fairs on the same field.
· The basic rules to sell or buy at marketplace, are same as for footbal
· We signed commitments letters with Hipermaxi (largest supermarket chain in Bolivia) and Kral (seasoning industry), in order to bridge intermediaries and buy directly from us, the producers.


All problems are part of the solution, of our learning process. Our main real problem was not to have a shared setting, a place people could refer to as "our place". Now we do.
Our project is only starting, but we've achieved good and especially meaningful things. We have a place from which to reach both, other football teams and buyers. We have all boys and girls in the community involved at training both, football and community rules, on the same field. The most active ones are older students and young farmers, that want to have fun and improve their lives.

It's taken 1 year to generate the conditions so that the land owner (it's me writing) and the community may sit and talk as equals, as neighbors. The seeds of trust-building are starting to grow on our agreed field of value. The greatest gain of all is to have established through football, a connexion between a local treasure (having a our place to practice sports) and an engine (a marketplace were to sell our products and crops).
We've also advanced creating a business model based on finding people and organizations interested in buying directly from us.

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Year 1: Let's learn to play inside and outside the field. We will:
· Work on communication skills and teambuilding.
· Train on the 3 rules of trust, inside & outside the field, brand it as “our style”.
· Review football field usage periodically.
· Reach organizations and ask them to do business with us, and also to play with us.
· Practice our local waste management organizing competitions.
· On Sunday we play in the afternoon, but first we do community work using ayne (exchanging favors) to build public ecologic bathrooms, and deposits for sports and fairs products.
· A weekly fair of rural products initially, as part of expanding the ways we sell now our products
· Charge 50 Bolvian cents for entering to the land. And invest the accumulated money in football equipment, trophies, trips, construction materials.
· Get accounting skills to administer money and activities
· Involve computers offered by the school board
· Consolidate a business model, get real data, and generate a realistic cash flow and financial indicators.

Year 2: let's have fun together. We will:
· More football training, to challenge other towns beyond Mayrana, to show well we play following our rules of trust
· More fairs, and invite other producers to sell and play with us.
· Negotiate directly with city buyers for larger volumes of products, using the marketplace as our negotiation and play ground.
· Use the football field to organize meetings to imagine, evaluate, plan, and engage young people in community-wise profitable projects.
· Introduce, simplify and learn how to use financial indicators in our marketplace.

Year 3: let's do it again, better. We will:
· Increase the volume of trade, and pre-sell crops and produce in advance, to start playing with finances.
· Invest money from championships and fairs, to send children local teams to play abroad
· Increase our sustainable productivity practices.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

The weight of "business as usual" is a burden that is taking it's time to overcome. Farmers are not used to register information on their crops' selling prices, and prefer more cash today than stable cash all year long. This is a tough paradigm. Hopefully, football creates a long term view than may help us find smart ways to gain negotiation power regarding prices of our crops, and seeds, and farm supplies.
· By the second year, if our crops don't get better margins and more revenues, people will leave the local marketplace. We need to create a digestible business model that simplifies the way people get money by selling crops.
· At a certain point, it will not only be about getting better prices for our crops, but also getting lower prices for our supply farming materials, and getting sustainable and simple to use technologies for increasing our production.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$50 - 100

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy?


What stage is your project in?

Operating for less than a year

In what country?


Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.


How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

For us at the moment it would be unproductive to be associated with NGOs or governmental levels, because this must first be anchored on local needs and capacities, and not on local astuteness to get "free" goods or money from others.

On the second year we plan to connect our marketplace with organizations, especially businesses. But this is only after making our own mistakes and building our local capacities.
So far, a football+marketplace field has made visible that it’s possible and desirable to combine the usual trips to sell products for a price established by Abasto’s union of wholesalers, with our local fairs where prices are negotiated between farmers and final consumers.

Local authorities and organizations are helping us a lot, in order to make things more "official" and to keep track on what's really going on. People are involved for good. Local football teams captains and players, the "corregidor" (local authority), parents' school board, farmer's union, and BIOCOOP (the most successful peasant-based cooperative of bio-products in the region), class-room and grade school presidents, local wise-men and wise-women, etc.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Play more football games as locals. Cuevas young man have acquired the fame of being short-tempered during Championships. The main reason for this, is their low sense of achievement or self-efficacy. It’s been more than 5 years since the town has one a regional tournament, and even though they play every Sunday, there’s no systematic training or competitive atmosphere among the 3 to 6 teams at Cuevas -while the teams in other towns, have more chances to compete and deal with group and personal challenges.

2. Enhance communications. We need CV radios, since cellphones don't reach our zone yet, to know main marketplace's prices and volumes of offer&demand, and to negotiate faster, and also to invite suppliers and buyers to our games. But most of all, we need to develop our own Farmer’s market business model anchoring it on negotiation skills and social skills. This can’t be done only by having a marketplace, but also by evolving rules of engagement in sports and business.

3. Chances to train and play games with more professional and structured football teams, to gain status in the region and our country. A key component of our business model, involves reaching businesses and football teams from Santa Cruz city. We are currently starting conversations with large companies that have football and volley teams of both genders. This is a field trip for them, and it’s a learning opportunity to practice our and share our 3 rules of trust. Inviting them to play at our field, and eat and buy from us is part of the game. Also, a major league team (Blooming) representative has opened the chance to train with us on our field. This is the kind of opportunities our young men and women, and also children, need for learning to deal with pressure, without recurring to violence when things are not as you want them to be.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

The defining moment was when I, David Rojas Elbirt (the owner of the land where the football field/marketplace is emerging as a business and social tool) asked don Cirilo (local authority of Cuevas and member of a local rural cooperative, and also a passionate football player) if it was safe for me to lend a piece of land to our community to play football, and he answered by saying let's sign a contract with clear rules for all of us. And then he added "we've been looking for year where to build a marketplace, do you think we can use the football field also as an open fair?". This day, personal aims clashed with community wants. Different needs and their solutions united (a football field, parents worried for the future of their offspring, young people feeling bored and moneyless, a place to sell produce, a way to increase profits, a way to simplify selling local products , a way to learn waste management practices), suddenly colliding when we found a way to agree on how to use a flat field.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

David Rojas Elbirt, Ethnographer, Organizational Coach, Permaculture Farmer and Reputation Management Consultant. Founder of de Nexo Bolivia, consummer and educational ethnographer. I just want to live simple and generate wealth in the contry-side.
Worked for Pacific Ethnography as a field ethnographer and analyst for Europe and Latin America, in Düsseldorf, Los Angeles and Bolivia. Was Descovery Chief Ethnographer for Mindcode in Colombia and Miami.
Studied Pedagogie and Economy in Argentina. Did an international masters degree in Education in Framingham, Massachusetts. Doctorate Candidate at the Von Humboldt Universitet, Berlin.
Has done courses at Olson Zaltman Associates, The Livingston Group, Janet Mancini Group Dimensions, and Tech de Monterrey.
Has done research projects about the base of the pyramid, indigenous, urban tribes, etc. for SOBOCE, Fondesif-GTZ , USAID-PSI, OPS, IDH-PNUD, World Vision, Save the Children, SNV, SOS Kinderdorf, Cruz Roja Española, CEOSS microfinance Egypt, ACSI-CHF Iraq, and OMNICOM, Boeing, Wendy’s, Tres Montes Lucetti, Coca Cola, Nestlè, Unilever, etc.
Has done telecom, retail, food, beberages, etc. in Bolivia since 1999.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Personal contact at Changemakers

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Aimee Maron