Sistema Biobolsa is a social and environmental impact business that produces, distributes, installs, and maintains an award winning, high quality biodigester system designed for small and medium-sized farms.
IDB FOMIN, El Buen Socio, Greater Impact Foundation
2010: BID Challenge International Winner2011: Ashoka Fellowship
2012: New Ventures Scholarship
2013: Clinton Global Initiative Recognization
Sistema Biobolsa is an enterprise based in Mexico that manufactures and sells high-quality biodigester systems for the recycling of human and animal waste into biogas and organic fertilizer. They target mainly small and medium farmers in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America.
The product is a pre-fabricated biodigester system that is designed for small and medium-sized farms.
The product is flexible, durable, made of high quality geomembrane, and is easy to assemble and install.
Sistema Biobolsa employs a comprehensive method to ensure full implementation of the biodigester. Before installation, employees analyze the condition of the farm so that a customized product can be designed and installed.
After basic training, Sistema Biobolsa does follow-ups and impact monitoring to ensure proper and effective implementation of the technology.
Sistema Biobolsa targets small and medium rural farmers in Central America and the Caribbean.
Estimates put the target market at over 8 million households in Mexico alone.
Sistema Biobolsa also targets lower income families through partnerships with NGOs, government, and private programs/
Sale of biodigester systems and payback of microloans.
Grants and investment.
Sale of biogas accessories (filters, motor adaptors, stoves, boilers).
Sistema Biobolsa provides a robust piece of farm infrastructure that acts as a waste treatment, energy production, and fertilizer system that can have deep health, economic, and environmental benefits for the end users.
They have a full package of technology, products, finance, methodology, and promotion that allows both farmers and entrepreneurs to benefit greatly.
Through microfinance, Sistema Biobolsa is able to help customers circumvent high upfront costs and pay for the system in a way that works for them.
In Mexico, 29% of people depend on biomass for energy and 40% use fuelwood to satisfy at least a portion of their energy needs.
Fuelwood is expensive, time consuming to harvest, and contributes to health issues and deforestation.
Energy and fertilizer are two major farm inputs.
Many small and medium-sized farms also depend on expensive and environmentally damaging chemical fertilizers to increase yields.
Sistema Biobolsa attacks all of these problems by providing an alternative that is cheaper, more efficient, and sustainable. It also allows families who raise livestock to make use of animal waste.
Where They Are Now
Impact to Date
10,000+ biogas users.
103,000 metric tons of waste treated.
4,500 metric tons of biogas produced.
329,000 metric tons of organic fertilizer produced.
15,000 metric tons of CO2e mitigated.
Economic savings of $9M+ from displacing fossil fuels and synthetic fertilizers.
2010: Obtained $300k USD funding.
2011: Opened first regional office and created Biobolsa’s Loan Program Revolving Fund with a $500k grant.
2012: Developed a key partnership with KIVA to expand Loan Program.
2013: Reached 1,000 systems installed and more than 5,000 biogas users.
2014: Signed a contract with the International Development Bank FOMIN for a $260k USD non-reimbursable investment fund designed for regional growth.
2014: 85% current annual growth rate.
2014: 600 systems sold and create hybrid distribution franchise model.
2015: 1,200 systems sold, develop version 2.0 of their centralized data management system with mobile capabilities, develop version 2.0 of fabrication facilities to replicate regionally.
2016: 2,000 systems sold.
How They Deliver
Sistema Biobolsa is a vertically integrated company that designs, manufactures, and sells its product itself.
The product is manufactured in a factory in Toluca, Mexico. The manufacturing process generates no waste, as what would otherwise be discarded is used as packaging material for the product.
Sale occurs directly through the main office, through the Sistema Biobolsa website, or through third party resellers.
They maintain local distribution centers that target specific areas where sales take place, often working with local private micro-entrepreneurs to sale and service the product.
Sale through the company itself is usually done through field agents, and focuses on direct and personal contact with customers.
They also promote and introduce their product in communities and local events, as well as on social media.
Common household systems typically cost $600-2,000, and larger systems for small or medium sized farms cost anywhere from $1,600-$20,000.
Management of state and development funds compliment finance and purchase power.
Digesters typically last 15-20 years, but pay for themselves in 8 months to 3 years, making them an excellent investment.
Through its partnership with KIVA, Sistema Biobolsa can provide microloans to farmers to help them pay for their systems.
Sistema Biobolsa has received $1 million USD in grant funding and $270,000 USD in angel and start-up capital to date.
Sistema Biobolsa broke even in 2013 at around $1 million USD in sales, and is projecting $1.8 million in sales for 2014.
Sistema Biobolsa also commercializes carbon offsets through a carbon reduction portfolio that they manage. Credits are commercialized through voluntary emissions reductions (VER).
Sistema Biobolsa seeks to scale to new locations and expand their distribution and independent sales representative network.
They also plan to further refine their finance platform, which has been shown to be a driver of sales.
Their three year goal is to have expanded their distribution capacity to serve Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean and have 5,000 annual sales.
Within ten years, Sistema Biobolsa seeks to scale to a point where they hold 30-50% of the global small-scale biodigester market.
Although Sistema Biobolsa seeks to have a deep individual impact by providing a customized product, training, and follow-up, in the long term they wish to expand to new markets and reach ever larger numbers of people.
Description: The Sistema Biobolsa biodigester system is a prefabricated, modular waste treatment system that converts human and animal waste into methane-rich biogas and organic fertilizer through anaerobic decomposition. A gas management system is included with the biodigester that consists of a pressure escape valve, filter for gas impurities, and a gas bladder that can be used to store extra gas for later use. A repair kit and replacement parts are also included with a complete system. Sistema Biobolsa plans to begin selling accessories such as biogas stoves, boilers, and motors. The entire system is packed efficiently in geotextile, which is later repurposed as a protective liner to be used during installation. The system is available in many sizes: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 80, 120, 160, and 200 cubic meters of capacity. There is a separate model with multiple treatment steps that is designed specifically for human waste treatment. Sistema Biobolsa also sells accessories for the digester, such as cookstoves, filters burners, boilers, and motors.
How is it used: In order to operate the biodigester, the farmer just has to feed waste into it daily or every other day, and the anaerobic bacteria in the biodigester do the rest of the work. Finished biofertilizer is deposited at the end of the digester, and biogas is stored in the anaerobic reactor and sent to usage points. Biogas can also be stored in an attachable bladder if excess biogas is produced.