Who says Nicaraguans are not green pioneers? On the outskirts of Managua is an unassuming yet revolutionary local business that is proof positive of this country’s potential.
“El Gansito” is a small company that makes products out of recycled plastics and rubber. Its success is unquestionable after spawning five additional businesses since it started in the 1980s.
The original business started 25 years ago during the time of the Sandinista Revolution. Do to scarcity, needs, and demand, José Enrique Castillo built his first machine to produce shoe soles out of recycled rubber. As time passed, his family’s business grew to such extent that now it produces more than a thousand different mechanical and hardware parts—everything from toilet plungers to hammer handles—all from recycled materials.
The five workshops, which are also the stores, are located in Masaya, Cuidad Jardín, Don Bosco, Barrió Larreynaga, y by La Casa del Obrero. The shops are now managed and owned by Mr. Castillo’s two sons, José Alexander and Jefferson Castillo.
At the Gansito, which is located in barrio Larreynaga, the Castillo family created all of their machines; similarly, they also designed and created all of the molds used in the fabrication of their products. Certainly, there is no doubt of the capacity of the people working at El Gansito, who come up with cleaver solutions to their everyday problems.
It was quite interesting to observe the process of fabrication of their products. It all starts with the recollection of the raw material; people bring in bags full of old shoe soles, boots, and almost any kind of rubber and plastic to sell it for the 8 cordobas per pound. The second step is to chop up all the recycled material in a chopping mill to make pellets that can be melted down. The small pieces of plastic and rubber are then introduced into another machine that melts the product and pumps it to a preset mold to get the desired shape.
After ten seconds of cooling, the product is ready. It is important to notice that nothing is wasted since any excess material is reused again.
There is no doubt that this small business is one of the many “green jewels” we can find in Nicaragua. By mixing profit motive, sustainability, and entrepreneurship, El Gansito has set an example for others to follow in Nicaragua.
As a way to reward them for their work, an environmental commission of the UNAN (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua) recently gave them a certificate to recognize their help towards protecting the environment. Small initiatives such as these should be recognized since they are the ones making a difference not only in Nicaragua, but also in the world!
El Gansito is located in Managua’s Barrió Larreynaga, Iglesia la Merced 2c. al sur. Phone: 2250-7212.
Adriana Díaz and Gustavo Salinas are both 20 years old and currently studying at UAM-CUSE. www.nicaraguasevistedeverde.blogspot.com