Balancing Environmental Sustainability and Economic Opportunity in Social Entrepreneurship

Hannah Rees

TulipThe water filtration unit sold by SolCom

Soluciones Comunitarias (SolCom) is a group of social entrepreneurs based in Guatemala that offers innovative products to help the community meet local needs. It is difficult for social entrepreneurial companies like SolCom to balance running an organization in a profitable way while also considering environmental impacts. Society relies heavily on natural resources to survive and demands for these resources are growing along with the expanding population. 


 

It is the poorest who suffer the most from environmental degradation. Central America has suffered environmental consequences in the past, such as mudslides and hurricanes, especially due to over logging to keep up with the global market demand. Guatemala contributes very little to the total percentage of global greenhouse gasses, but is one of the world’s top 10 countries affected by extreme weather due to climate change. It is important for developing countries, such as Guatemala, to establish environmental goals in the early stages of growth so they do not create more environmental degradation and pollution.

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These environmental goals stem from local organizations implementing them into their operations. Sustainable Development Goals say that by 2030 all places should be able to meet basic needs. The solution for escaping poverty varies depending on location. For example, in Latin America there has been a struggle with the division between race, ethnicity, and class, and there has been a deficit in past investments on the education, health, and economic well-being, especially with the indigenous people. This is a large reason why The World Bank named Guatemala one of the most unequal countries in the world and points to the areas where Guatemala needs to focus more resources. SolCom believes they can make the biggest impact on the communities in Guatemala through making more sales and creating more access to products and services that will help locals in need.