Rodrigo Bolaños and Rossibeth Alvarado (’02, Costa Rica) share not only the same profession and deep respect for the environment. They also share a house, two young kids, an EARTH University education and a successful social enterprise.
The two met in 1999 as undergraduates at EARTH, where they bonded over their mutual love of soils class. Their four years on campus were formative ones. Each experienced their drive for business awaken and acumen sharpen, thanks in large part to their second-year entrepreneurial projects. Rodrigo conducted a feasibility study involving cattle, while Rossibeth spearheaded an integrated waste management initiative for low-resource communities.
Flash forward a few years: The two EARTH graduates (and newlyweds) deeply desired to start a business but recognized there would be a struggle to get one off the ground. They worked various jobs in an attempt to save up vital startup capital. They would stay up late into the night fleshing out business plans and authoring to-do lists. After multiple rounds of trial and error (and feasibility studies), the duo struck business-building gold in 2012. Since then, they have been running Fumihogar y Jardín, dedicating themselves to it full-time and employing five others.
Based in Grecia de Alajuela, Costa Rica, the company sells integrated pest management services — indoor-outdoor fumigation, pest monitoring, weed control — for homes and farms across Costa Rica. Rodrigo and Rossibeth’s particular methods boast a lower ecological footprint than conventional ones and are even pet- and child-safe. Paired with their impressive command of agricultural science and the novelty of their business concept, their less-toxic techniques set them leagues apart from the competition.
“The entrepreneurial experience at EARTH strengthened our ability to make decisions, take risks and offer socially and environmentally responsible products and services,” Rossibeth said.
This year, the company was honored at the Premios Latinoamérica Verde (Green Latin America Awards) for its give-back campaign tackling harmful vermin in schools. Along with subsidizing schoolyard fumigation, the company’s campaign involves hosting educational presentations and activities for schoolchildren. The interactive lessons center on reducing garbage, improving reuse of waste materials and increasing recycling on school grounds — thus contributing to the avoidance and reduction of pests in a non-toxic way.Today, Rodrigo and Rossibeth continue endeavoring to expand their reach. Currently, the life/business partners are dabbling in the production of natural insect repellents, experimenting with different recipes for candles and lotions that deter mosquitoes and ticks, among other pests. No matter where the future takes them, they remain steadfast in their drive to innovate, their commitment to social entrepreneurship and their gratitude for an EARTH education.
To follow the growth of this small business forged by EARTH grads, visit them on Facebook.