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Maria Rodriguez

Entrepreneur

ByoEarth was founded in 2007 by serial entrepreneur and native Guatemalan Maria Rodriguez, who started her first business at the age of 15. During her time at university, Maria became inspired by the endless possibilities and enormous potential found in…….worms.  These creatures have the stunning ability to turn organic waste into fertilizer through their digestive tracks. Maria identified a need among local farmers in and around Guatemala City, Guatemala to provide more sustainable fertilizer options at an affordable price. It was at this intersection of need and passion that ByoEarth was born.

Problem

“There are a lot of problems in Guatemala,” Maria reflects. “Biodegredation, food insecurity, and even malnutrition. People are in need of a source of income.” Maria goes on to explain that many of the fertilizers used by subsistence farmers in Guatemala are harsh mixtures that are damaging to the environment. “I grew up on a coffee farm,” Maria states. “I learned that chemical fertilizers could be very harmful.” Maria began to search for alternatives to the damaging fertilizers currently being used by farmers in Guatemala and stumbled upon the complex process of vermicomposting.

Vermicompost

Business Model

Vermicomposting is the process of creating compost through the natural digestive tracts of worms. “Any organic waste can be transformed into fertilizer through this process,” Maria explains. . The company has created an inexpensive and accessible process that provides sustainable fertilizers to local farmers and serves as a critical source of job creation for many women living in and around Guatemala City. Byoearth sells worms to individuals and communities so they too can develop their own sources of income. ”Setting up this process is not expensive and doesn’t take up much room, so it is accessible for many people,” Maria states. Once the worms are purchased, all that is needed is organic waste (a resource in large supply in Guatemala) and the vermicomposing process can begin. The output is an eco-friendly fertilizer that can be sold to local farmers.

Impact

ByoEarth educates local communities on the importance of biodegradable waste management and provides technical training in adopting vermicomposting. ”I want people in Guatemala to know that waste is really wealth,” Maria continues. “There is a way for them to generate an income and be environmentally sustainable by selling and using vermicompost.” Maria wants groups and individuals throughout Guatemala to adopt this process because it “returns organic fertilizers to the earth.” Maria speaks of one area an hour outside Guatemala City. Three different communities there have banded together to tackle their mounting waste problem. They invested in the vermicomposting process and began converting their organic waste into fertilizer, while also generating a key source of income. The main objectives of ByoEarth include:

  • Enhanced, sustainable agricultural productivity
  • Greater food security for the local community
  • Land use sustainability

Future

ByoEarth’s 5-year vision is to enable more than 10,000 Guatemalan farmers to reduce their dependence on and usage of chemical fertilizers. “I want to take nature’s processes and maximize them,” Maria concludes. “I want to continue to explore ways in which we can use nature’s processes in sustainable and even profitable ways.”