Green Alalay

Green Alalay: An innovative solution for an environmental problem in Bolivia

Cochabamba, BoliviaCochabamba, Bolivia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Produce ethanol from invasive macrophytes in Alalay lagoon and implement an environmental education program focused on the awareness of the population about the importance of caring the lagoon. It will benefit 46,000 people, creating a new sustainable source of income and improving the environment

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if waste from the control of an invasive specie could be used to produce energy?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Alalay lagoon is the biggest lagoon in Cochabamba city. The lagoon has been contaminated due urbanization and agricultural practices. As a biological response to the problem, an invasive specie of macrophyte has appeared, covering 90% the surface covered. They are killing biodiversity, producing odors and polluting the water. This has been causing discomfort in the population and big costs to the city, due unsustainable remediation methods.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Production of ethanol from harvested macrophytes and in order to achieve long-term sustainability, we want to implement an environmental education program in the area. Macrophytes will be mechanical harvested, by a machine that has been developed in Bolivia. Recent studies have shown that macrophysics possesses a high capacity for bioethanol production due the high biomass content and higher ratio of starch content, that contributes to a more efficient fermentation. The product can be used for the combustion of engines. The environmental education focuses on the dissemination of good environmental practices and incentives for the development of new projects. It will be implemented at schools, universities and neighborhoods organizations.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Assuming that the project would be implemented, the amount of macrophytes would be controlled. Dissolved oxygen will increase, the organic load will reduced and biodiversity will recover. With no odors and better appearance, people will frequent the areas of recreation and tourism will increase; that eventually will generate money for people living in the area. The area will be more attractive to investors that will create new jobs sources. Bioethanol profits will be invested in research, infrastructure and education. Women will be empowerment through environmental education and people, will get awareness about environment. People could get new jobs and increase their incomes. All together will contribute to a better life style.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Costs of extraction of macrophyte will decline with mechanization. The risk of infection and accidents by harvesting will reduce. The project will directly benefit more than 46,000 residents in the area, creating new jobs, rehabilitating playgrounds, reducing odors, increasing tourism, generating incomes and improving the general welfare of the population. With the creation of new sources of employment, the local economy will be encouraged; as well as women's empowerment, reducing gender inequality and creating dignity of work. Environmental education, awareness raising, new research opportunities and incentives for training professionals interested in the topic. Biodiversity increasing, best water quality. Reduction of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases. With less spends and more incomes, the municipality could invest in public infrastructure, health and education.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The project should be an example to be implemented in other cities and countries in the region. The plant can be a center of experimentation and learning, to experiment different materials to produce ethanol. It aims to empower the people of the region and propose new alternatives for the development of villages around the lake. We pretend to promote the construction of biodiversity centers, tourist lodges and schools in the area. With the increased price of bioethanol, we want to encourage consumption and strengthen partnerships with energy companies. Spread the idea in other countries.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Macrophyte production is 2.3 ton of dry matter, of which 467.257 liters is obtained. The liter of ethanol costs $ 0.59. Revenue is $278.966. The cost of production is $194.125. Profitability is 21.9%. Recovery period of 13 years and $84.870 annual earnings. The earning will be invested to cover the project costs. The investment will be covered with donations trough foundations, NGO's, business and the regional government.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The regional government has a program of manual cleaning of macrophytes, to produce compost from waste. However, much time and money on manual collection is invested, it is risky and is not profitable. The proposed measure is cost-effective, technologically innovative and renewable energy is produced. Is effective, clean process and can be used for the generation of energy. Bioethanol production in the Bolivia is increasing, corn and sugar cane producers are investing in development of new ways to get ethanol. The bioethanol market has been increasing due high prices in fossil fuels.

Founding Story

Four years ago the alarming news about the pollution of the lagoon worried me. The beautiful body of water that I knew in my childhood had become a smelly sewer. I tried to find solutions to the problem, but I dind't have the knowledge to find a solution. One day after a renewable energy class, I thought it could be possible to produce bioethanol from waste Bolivia, with the aim of not using crops for it. I realized that the city government bought a boat harvesting macrophytes, but they had't found what to do with the waste. Then came the idea of ​​producing ethanol from harvested macrophytes. I gathered two colleagues who helped me with the idea generation and we add an environmental education program to make it more sustainable.


Sergio Urioste is the manager of the team, an Environmental Engineering Student in charge of the development of ideas, construction of technical aspects of the projects and fund raising. Ana Morales is a Socioeconomic Development Engineering student in charge of the development of social aspects, human practices, marketing and design. Alvaro Irazoque, a student of socioeconomic engineering, is in charge of the economic and financial aspects.
About You
About You
First Name

Sergio Alejandro

Last Name

Urioste Daza

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Organization Country

, Cochabamba

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Cochabamba

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Businesses, Regional government.


Waste and Packaging, Sustainable Sourcing, Inclusive Business.

Audience: Who have you identified as your customer/recipient groups and do these groups value your solution for different reasons? How do you engage different customer/recipient groups to deliver your solution?

The project will benefit the established organizations around the lagoon. We will help the municipality to municipality in the sustainable management of the area. More than 46,000 people living in the area will be benefit with job creation and improved welfare. The product will be sold to energy companies such as oil and electric power plants. We engaged with the municipality with the establishment of strategy alliances, as well with private business. We will have the support of energy companies.

Scaling the solution: How would the prize money and publicity help you to achieve your objectives over the next two years?

The project is an idea for solving environmental and social problems. We are currently raising funds and technical support to implement the project. The money will be invested in the development of environmental education program to raise awareness and investment in equipment necessary to develop a pilot plant. Advertising will release the project, which will help us to get more funding and technical support.

Experience: Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered

We have presented the project in international competition Vertech City, where we were among the twelve finalists chosen to present the project at an international symposium of experts in order to get funding and technical support.
We have also secured the support of the municipality and the technical assistance of experts in environmental engineering and renewable energy production.

Are you are eligible to attend the Accelerator event in Cambridge and subsequent events in London, UK in January, 2015?


Will you require a visa to enter the UK?


Are you are a current Unilever employee?