Lake Atitlán is the most important freshwater body in Central America. Asociación Amigos del Lago de Atitlán (AALA) is a local entity that aims to conserve the Lake’s watershed and improve the life quality of its inhabitants.
In this context, AALA’s project, called Atitlán Recicla, requires the drafting and implementation of a business plan to formalise the recycling operations already underway. Thus, it is expected to strengthen the business, administrative and financial capacity of the actors involved, mainly the women waste pickers, known as “lideresas” (women leaders).
Therefore, the challenge is to determine the economic sustainability of the project and its governance model linked to recycling activities in the municipalities surrounding Lake Atitlán.
Our strategy has focused on the development of Atitlán Recicla’s business plan, suggesting an inclusive and sustainable business model.
In order to develop this plan, it has been required to carry out an analysis of the procedures for the collection and transport of recyclable materials, as well as the working methods: sorting, negotiation for the sale and packaging of the materials. In addition, an analysis of Guatemalan legislation has been carried out to determine which legal figure best suits this project. Once these studies had been carried out, new operational procedures and the search for new markets for the recycled materials were determined. Finally, the business plan, including the legal analysis, was presented to the recyclers’ associations.
As a result, the creation of a cooperative has been supported, currently operating under the legal form of Cooperativa Atitlán Recicla.
The development and implementation of the business plan resulted in a process of formalisation of the “lideresas” in a cooperative format. This has had a positive impact on them, through the support in the adaptation and organisation of the collection centres and through the support to the cooperative’s management teams.
In addition, a training programme has been carried out for waste pickers with the aim of giving them tools to apply in their workplaces and providing them with resources to improve their working conditions.
In this way, we have strengthened the organisational and business skills of the women waste pickers, AALA’s technical team and other stakeholders through training and technical assistance.