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Innovative businesses that support local communities
August 5, 2019

YLAI Network members Juliana Nieva de Castillo from Tucumán, Argentina and Julio César Bueno Cruz from Cali, Colombia illustrate two forms of social innovation and community support through unique business concepts.

Recycling and Design

Juliana Nieva de Castillo created Ecomué Diseño Sustentable, a business that designs and builds furniture out of recycled materials. Juliana has dedicated herself to supporting the environment and developing a vision to “generate an ecological and sustainable awareness through a new form of design.” Ecomué Diseño Sustentable’s products include lamps, ornaments, and household objects. Because Juliana transforms and refurbishes all of her products, she is able to sell items at a low cost that a greater number of people can afford. This cost-savings approach to business is also reflected in her marketing strategy.

wind chime
“Lámpara hecha con madera reciclada de cajones de verdura” (@ecomuediseno).


Social media and email are Juliana’s preferred means of marketing. She informs her clients about products through platforms like Instagram and Facebook, as well as by word of mouth.

World Bank experts say that without urgent action, global waste will increase by 70 percent of current levels by 2050. With a focus on sustainability, Juliana’s vision may inspire others to take action to diminish the quantity of waste in communities around the world. Her work highlights the impact that everyone can have on their community and the environment through small choices.

Coffee with a Pinch of Social Innovation

Further north, Julio Cesar Bueno Cruz demonstrates another unique type of community activism through his business, Andinorganic. Julio commercializes specialty coffees and supports rural farming communities in areas where violent conflict is common. Julio has added more dimension to the commercial coffee consumer experience by combining the product with a more sensory experience of the coffee and by sharing the stories of local coffee producers who grow the beans. Julio combines these two aspects of the coffee’s life cycle to sell a product that creates a social impact far deeper than typical commercial coffee.

woman walking in a crop
Imagen del Instagram de @andinorganic.

Julio’s clients ask for products associated with social responsibility and community support. He sells the coffee to specialty cafes, coffee shops, and coffee shop chains looking for specialty coffee.

Julio markets the product through videos that narrate the history of the coffee. He explains, “The goal is to move the videos through social media as a positioning strategy for a proposal of transparent fair trade.” The videos show clients the process of creating the coffee and also talk about the culture and entrepreneurial story of the farmers.

Juliana and Julio have both successfully integrated community development and environmental support into their business models. We congratulate them on their successes and the profound social and environmental impacts they work to create!

The YLAI Network offers tools so that your business can reach success. The courses, Fundamentals of Starting and Running a Business, Fundamentals of Business Expansion, and Servant Leadership may inspire you in your future endeavors.

You can find the Instagram of Ecomué Sustainable Design here. You can find Andinorganic’s Instagram here, his Facebook page here and his website here.