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Maria Elena Cruz of Movimiento Darte

Maria Elena Cruz
Movimiento Darte
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Turning waste paper into chic notebooks and sketch pads for school children to help them with their education is the focus for this groundbreaking social enterprise.

Whilst at university, Maria used to work in a store taking photocopies and she saw how much paper was being wasted on a daily basis. She also noticed that many young children didn’t have writing books or art pads to draw and paint on. Maria’s solution was to start her own company, Movimiento Darte in 2011, to transform waste paper into stylish notebooks and sketch pads. In order to create something that stands out from the competition, Maria engaged with artists from around the world to create unique cover designs for her products.

Striving to build a better society, Maria ensures that for every notebook she sells, one is provided free to a disadvantaged child.

Maria’s products also enable her to educate children about the environmental impact of deforestation and the importance of ethical consumerism.

Since its launch, the business has distributed some 4,900 notebooks and over 500 storybooks to children in Argentina and Maria’s home country, Colombia. The company also delivers workshops to enable children to create their own books with recycled materials.

With year on year sales doubling, the company has often had to take on up to four extra temporary staff, to support its two full time employees, in order to meet new orders.

In 2013, Movimiento Darte received an award from Desafío Jovem, the Shell LiveWIRE programme in Argentina, which along with support from a mentor enabled the company to expand its production.

Maria’s future plans include upgrading the company’s website and selling her products through more outlets including toy stores, gift shops, art galleries and bookshops in both Argentina and Colombia. She is also planning to expand her recycled product range to include pencil cases, purses, wallets and bags.



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