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#Covid-19 and EoC - Entrepreneurship in times of pandemic: an act of faith, courage and communion

The story of a young Argentinian who, in the midst of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, decides to create something new, in many ways. Carolina Carbonell interviewed him for us.

Logo Desenvueltos 300A Dutch proverb says "You can't stop the wind from blowing, but you can build mills". About a year ago, Agustín Cabezas, a young man from the town of Salta, was planning to create a business which is now a reality. But what is special about his project? We don't want to anticipate too much, but in Agustin's idea we have found, simultaneously, a series of innovative elements that go in the direction of a strongly inclusive sustainability, through the enhancement of the community and its traditions. All this by networking, fair trade, zero waste, and having - in the background - the culture of communion.

Let's take a step backwards to get to know the protagonist of our story. Agustín has pursued specialized studies in tourism and is the coordinator of Agustin Cabezas 450the Sustainable Tourism Program of Northwest Argentina. Specialized in local economic development through cooperatives, he has always tried to give a social perspective to tourism. In the last 10 years, Agustín has accompanied rural communities towards an integral development in the tourism sector, teaching them how to offer good accommodation and how to manage catering and recreational activities for guests. At the same time, in a relationship of true reciprocity, Agustín has learned much from these communities, observing their relationship with nature, their care for the land and the environment, their responsible consumption, healthy eating and their waste treatment. These elements help us to understand his entrepreneurial vocation.

In the context of the current pandemic in which the tourism industry has fallen deep, Agustín felt the need to launch a business idea aimed at strengthening production activities that provide a daily livelihood for families in communities living off tourism and marketing their products.

What does it mean to launch a business in the middle of a pandemic?

I have lived through days of ups and downs in which I have experienced on the one hand enthusiasm and on the other all the fears that have touched every entrepreneur during this period. I didn't understand if the idea growing in me was a whim or a real inspiration and so this was really the right time to start. But "living in the flesh", that act of faith that every entrepreneur makes, was incredible and gave me the push to move forward. I feel that the pain of entrepreneurs who cannot offer work in this difficult time has its fruits and I feel that this project is one of them.

Desenvueltos 02 500“DESENVUELTOS, ECO almacén*”. What's this about?

It will be a small business designed to raise awareness and help people to have a more sustainable life. We want to be a bridge between local entrepreneurs and consumers, offering the possibility of responsible shopping that generates as little waste as possible. And because we need to "change the culture", providentially the premises we have identified have a space that will be used for conferences to share experiences on sustainability in everyday life, conscious food and responsible consumption and also to give local entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their products.

How was the project conceived?

I had in mind to start a small business, and the quarantine was the ideal moment to finish shaping it and making it concrete. The original idea came from me and my wife's concern to be more responsible for the waste we produce at home. We began by gradually coming into contact with more and more people with the same sensitivity towards a more sustainable lifestyle, and then, looking a little further, I found confirmation for our way by the Encyclical Laudato Sì, as well as Greta Thunberg's movement and the great environmental problems. So I decided to create a place where it would be possible to buy organic food, cleaning products and personal hygiene items wholesale. Those who come to the shop can bring their own packaging (bottles, cloth bags or other containers) and, if they do not have them, they can use paper bags that degrade easily. We will also give priority to the sale of local products, craftsmen's items and even small industries in the area, which contribute to a more sustainable life. Shops of this kind already exist in other parts of the world, collected in the #zerowaste movement from which I have taken many ideas.

How is your relationship with your suppliers?

Thanks to my work in the tourism sector, I know many small producers of really amazing items that have difficulty in selling due to the lack of an adequate sales network. The idea is that in a fair trade relationship, this becomes an extra marketing channel. By doing research on the net, we find other people who do very innovative things in this area. Surely we will build many collaborations: I'm sure we can operate in a transparent way and everyone will know the costs and profitability of every good or service.

Agustín's enthusiasm is contagious: as soon as he shared news of his enterprise, he began to weave a network of help offering and sharing talent and complementary ideas, especially from young people. Best wishes, Agustín, for your brave, young and innovative new venture!

*Development, eco store

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