Martín Ascacibar

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2010


This profile was prepared when Martín Ascacibar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Martin is developing a new biomass model that is socially empowering, economically feasible, and environmentally sustainable. Through a vertically integrated business model based on cross capital participation (i.e. with each element of the value chain holding an interest, either through individually held or corporately held equity, in other segments of the value chain), Martin is demonstrating how a new type of enterprise, which incorporates an integrated value chain that includes small local producers as well as larger players, can succeed in biomass production where others have failed. The capital structure that Martin has pioneered allows full and transparent access to financial information, benefit sharing and most decision-making. In the process, it offers key incentives to all participants, from producers to consumers, to maximize the benefits of the whole system, and to ensure sustainable local development.

Starting at the local level, Martin establishes a biomass production plant. The forest owners—both public and private entities—that provide material for the plant (forest waste and other types of wood)—have a dual relationship with this plant as both owners and suppliers of raw materials. Producers hold capital shares of the plant and also commercial agreements that guarantee fair prices for their material. This structure allows for the growth and profits of the plant to translate into double benefits for the producer: As a shareholder, and through higher raw material prices. Martin’s different plants are geographically distributed and share a central body, Enerpellet, which is in charge of logistics and distribution as well as marketing and commercialization of every plant’s production. To round up the capital structure of the model, Enerpellet participates in all the producing plants with shares and vice-versa.

This model allows the biomass industry to act as an engine of local economic development and environmental preservation. Martin’s model distributes returns of capitals and passes them down to the primary producers, addressing the inefficiency of existing business structures markets where the producers of primary (commodities) rarely reap the full benefit from the profits generated in their channels. Thus, he is promoting local development, ensuring sustainability, and responding efficiently to future energy needs of the population.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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