Growing up on a small farm in the US, Alex Eaton was raised with a sensitivity to the reality of smallholder farming. It’s no surprise that after 8 years of leading the International Renewable Resources Institute, Alex, a serial entrepreneur, built Sistema Biobolsa in Mexico in 2010 to enable farmers to use biogas solutions to improve agricultural outputs and provide cleaner cooking. At that time, social enterprise was a contradictory term: people looked down upon entrepreneurs trying to make money off the poor. Since that time, Sistema Biobolsa’s product has extended its reach as far as Asia and Africa.
On this podcast, Alex gives entrepreneurs a reality check about maintaining a laser-focus on achieving market returns by leading their companies to do one thing, do that thing well, and sticking to cash flow fundamentals. We’ll specifically cover:
- Sistema Biobolsa’s origin story and early-stage roadblocks, from designing the product and business, to the journey from non-profit to social enterprise, including what stopped Alex from giving his patented design away.
- Understanding how, because of funding mechanisms in the sector, social enterprises are not responding to normal market conditions or industry competition, nor are they learning from the well-known mistakes of the INGOs that preceded them.
- What it means for social enterprises to “stay hungry,” why that’s a necessity for financial and social success, and how Alex practices this with his team.
- The advice Alex has for his younger self, from appreciating the mundane to not recreating the wheel.
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