Recycling On The Bolivian Plateau: Meet May’s Kiva Entrepreneur

To the South-West of La Paz, Bolivia’s administrative capital, lies the area of Cruce Villa Adela, the crossroads beyond which the remote villages of the arid Altiplano spread out.

Whilst Bolivia’s economy has taken an upturn from a starting point of economic and political instability in recent years, it remains South America’s poorest country. Many Bolivians struggle to eke out a living as subsistence farmers, miners, artisans or small traders.

Every month we make ‘loans that change lives’ to enterprising individuals without access to traditional banking systems via

This May we’ve chosen to lend to one of Bolivia’s small traders; a one-man band glass recycling business.

Sevarino is 58 years old, and cares for his elderly mother single-handedly. He has been running his own business collecting glass for recycling for the past 20 years, having previously worked in a glass factory. His entrepreneurial spirit shone through when he saw the opportunity to gain independence from his former employers by becoming their supplier of raw materials. As he puts it, “The glass factory needs raw materials and I take charge of providing it.”

Incredibly, despite the sometimes dire economic state of the country over the past two decades, Sevarino has never before requested assistance from Emprender, the institution offering this loan.

He travels around the remote villages on the plateau collecting and and all types of glass from households, businesses and commercial dumps.

The environmental benefits of recycling glass in this way are huge- the energy expended in melting down glass to re-use is a fraction of that required to make new glass. Air and water pollution are also lowered as a result of the lower CO2 emissions involved.

Business is good for Sevarino, with the factory buying as much glass as he is able to provide them with, but his vehicle is not reliable. He is currently losing days of work repairing his truck’s faulty motor, as well as running the risk of becoming stranded if it failed when he is in a remote area.

His ultimate goal is to replace the truck entirely, but in the meantime this loan will help him to purchase a new motor and continue with his work without the worry of his truck letting him down.

We are delighted to help Sevarino with his goal (at the time of writing his $1,450 loan is 36% of the way there). If you feel similarly inspired, follow this link to contribute -

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