Advancing social and environmental change in Argentina

By Ana Gonzalez

Entrepreneurship can empower individuals and communities limited in resources. Someone with a good entrepreneurial spirit will look for ways to improve a community and its integrity through its businesses and missions.

2018 YLAI Fellow Marcos Heyd is a great example of someone with a good entrepreneurial spirit. He is the founder of La Escombrera, the founder of Surcos Argentinos and the co-founder of Digital Footprint. All three organizations aim to empower communities in Argentina by addressing social problems through reducing construction debris, creating organic gardens, and promoting digital literacy respectively.

The YLAI Network interviewed Marcos to learn more about his various organizations, his advice to network members, and his entrepreneurial spirit.

la escombrera logo

What is the goal of your first organization, La Escombrera?

La Escombrera is an organization that aims to reduce construction waste in Argentina. La Escombrera repurposes debris, sand, and rocks to use as concrete and then sells these to construction companies. La Escombrera changed the rules of the game and has been successful in promoting sustainable products.

After selling La Escombrera to competitors in 2019, the company continues to reform construction in Argentina.

What did Surcos Argentinos, your second business, accomplish?  

Impoverished villages in Argentina do not have the appropriate resources or knowledge to have nutrient-rich diets.

To combat this, Surcos Argentinos taught sustainable farming to impoverished families in villages far from the capital. Unfortunately, in 2017, Surcos Argentinos shut down due to a change in its business model, management, and mission. However, by creating organic gardens, the organization taught families how to farm and continue to farm, and to eat more greens rather than carbohydrates.  

man talking to crowd

Could you expand on the work done by Digital Footprint, your third venture? 

One of the biggest problems Argentina faces is the lack of digital knowledge in impoverished areas, which is a huge barrier to development. Digital Footprint taught people the basics of digital devices, and how to use technology such as Microsoft Office and Google, and social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

I no longer work with Digital Footprint, but the organization remains successful and has evolved into the Arbusta software startup.

What drove you to launch these organizations? 

I am lucky to have had the possibility to study and travel around the world. Many others in Argentina might not have access, so I focus my passions and my work in social and environmental organizations.

I consider my work to be successful if it helps someone else. With Surcos Argentinos, we were able to change the eating habits of rural families. With Digital Footprint, we networked for our students and taught them digital literacy. La Escombrera succeeded in selling and promoting sustainable materials, and with those sustainable materials, better homes were built.

It is through social and environmental organizations like these that Argentinian communities can prosper.

What is the biggest challenge that you faced managing any of your organizations? 

La Escombrera was the biggest challenge for me. I am not an engineer, an architect, or an academic in the field, so there was much criticism and were doubts about adopting repurposed products into construction.

It was all very overwhelming, but I reminded myself that all this was for others and this kept me going.

What was your biggest accomplishment during your time with these organizations?

My biggest accomplishment was changing the materials used by construction companies in Argentina. All those that want to use or sell sustainable products can do so because La Escombrera opened the door to sustainable construction.

What projects are you working on now?

I am taking some time to think about what my new sustainable and social goals will be. I need to go out and see what the current problems are and follow that next motivation to change something.

How has the YLAI network helped you in managing and growing your organizations?

Ever since I joined the YLAI Network and participated in the YLAI Fellowship, I have learned much about business management. I learned about different organizations, leadership styles, team management and ways to use technology efficiently, and then applied all this to my business models.

Do you have any advice for YLAI members?

Pursue your goals and work hard. If someone says your ideas do not work, you respond, “What can I do so that they do work?” You need to be resilient. You need to know when to pick your battles and when to stand up for your products and ideas.

Above all, you must build a good entrepreneurial spirit and character. Be sure of who you are and what your values are and then reflect those in your companies. This way you will never become corrupt and you will stay true to yourself and to your mission.

 

Marcos Heyd has invested his time and energy into solving problems in Argentina. With his entrepreneurial spirit, Marcos has worked hard to address issues in his community such as the lack of digital literacy, the absence of healthy diets, and ongoing pollution.

Marcos and the YLAI Network motivate you to go out and create solutions to problems that hinder the development of your communities.

Este artículo está disponible en español.