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Social Entrepreneur

328 EpisodesProduced by Tony LoydWebsite

Social Entrepreneur exists at the intersection of profit and purpose. We tell positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.


070, Maria Rodriguez, Byoearth | Overcoming Our Inspirational Story

How Our Inspirational Story Can Keep Us Stuck

What happens when our inspirational story keeps us from transformational change? We all have a story. Sometimes those stories hold us back. “I’m not good at math.” “Women aren’t supposed to behave like that.” “It’s too late for me.”

Stories can also inspire. They drive our life forward with their narrative. “I’m creating something epic.” “I’m going to help a billion people.” “I overcame adversity to make an impact in the world.”

But is it possible that an inspirational story can only take us so far, and, in fact, can become a burden that keeps us from reaching the next level.

Maria Rodriguez had a story that she had to overcome. Maria grew up in Guatemala City. Her family owned a coffee plantation. She was a 20-year old, rebellious student. She was a woman in Guatemala. And she was studying the hospitality industry. Her story was on a particular trajectory.

While she was at university, a guest lecturer came to speak. In typical fashion, Maria was not listening. But the speaker said something that caught her attention. He described vermicomposting – the process of feeding waste to worms and creating organic fertilizer. The idea intrigued her.

She wondered, could she create a business out of this? After drawing up a business plan, she went to her father. Let’s just say that he did not encourage her. However, Maria was determined. She entered a business plan competition sponsored by TechnoServe. She won the competition and with her winnings, Byoearth was born.

Byoearth uses worms to convert waste into organic fertilizer. The process is called vermicomposting. They sell the fertilizer to local farmers. They also sell worms and provide technical support.

This is a wonderful story of worms turning waste into wealth for women.

We could end the story here. But there’s more. Maria told me, “It really helped that I was a woman trying to do something different in the agricultural sector of Guatemala. And I would be invited to a lot of places to speak about it. Because, you have a 20 year-old with worms and she’s so passionate about it, and she’s talking about how you can change the world with them.”

“But now, 10 years after, you want to run a social venture, and scale and people are still ‘Oh, Maria, the one with the worms.’ I would like to move out of that, but that’s been a challenge.” The very story that allowed her to successfully launch her business is now keeping her anchored in one place.

Maria is ready to scale her impact. To do so, she is going to need a new story. Byoearth is expanding into new territories in Guatemala. They are beginning to sell organic vegetables. And they are launching new businesses.

Maria Rodriguez is a wonderful social entrepreneur. To reach her new goals. She is writing a new inspiring story.

Mentoring Giveaway:

Throughout the month of April, you can win one of ten one-on-one mentoring calls to help you launch or grow your social enterprise. We’ll be drawing each week. To enter, go to

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

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