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Strengthening the rights of the waste pickers as entrepreneurs

How can waste pickers thrive as entrepreneurs if they cannot even survive?

Strengthening the rights of the waste pickers as entrepreneurs and fostering a sustainable way for their community to survive. 

Our research unpacks how the interplay of structural, disciplinary, hegemonic and interpersonal powers associated with marginalised groups of Venezuelan waste pickers in Colombia affect their informal entrepreneurial activities and experiences, and their future survival.

This project will contribute to the discussion on alleviating inequality within the Sustainable Development Goal 10.

Leveraging the support of CIVISOL, an NGO supporting Venezuelan migrants and waste pickers, as well as local authorities managing the migrant crisis in Colombia, we conduct interviews with Venezuelan waste pickers and supporting organizations, and explore the entrepreneurial efforts of this marginalised community, to help address the implication of the relationships between entrepreneurship, migration and poverty.


  • In 2009- the Court ruling in Colombia prioritize waste pickers as the local entrepreneur waste collectors (the first in the world)
  • 2016-Government created Decree 596 to answer the ruling and make the waste market open (free market)
  • This leads to unfair competition for the waste pickers, without proper support and transparent process
  • The current legal process against the decree, with a court hearing on 15th March 2021.

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This project contributes towards strengthening the rights of the waste pickers as entrepreneurs and fostering sustainable ways for their community to continue making a living and striving. The initiative helps the waste pickers fight for market inclusion to practice their waste picking entrepreneurial (solidarity) activities where they are not recognized and marginalized by the local authority and society, despite the fact that the court ordered otherwise.

In 2009, the court recognized their right as entrepreneurs in the waste marketplace, despite their informal nature and poverty circumstances. Yet, after 11 years of the Court ruling, waste pickers still struggle in their formalization process.

This is due to the influence of more powerful actors taking advantage of their powerless waste pickers community, leading to the Decree 596 (2016) being challenged in court by waste pickers and their allies.

Hence, the current court battle and hearing in March 2021 challenges the local authority on their ways of supporting/hindering waste pickers in making a living as waste pickers and thrive as entrepreneurs. The project team are invited to the court to act as a witness to present our current research on the challenges of waste pickers due to the formalization (2009 court ruling).

Watch the Virtual Forum of Self-Managed Waste Pickers Date: Sunday, 28th February

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Watch "Just Recycling: The Social, Economic and Environmental Benefits of Working with Waste Pickers"

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Read more about the research team

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Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Professor Ainurul Rosli
Professor Ainurul Rosli - I am a Team Coach and an Entrepreneurial Mindset Practitioner (EMP). I am an avid believer in the importance of university-industry-community interaction. I am part of Team Academy (Tiimiakatemia, Finland), a global team-learning community that aims to equip young adults with the skills, knowledge and personal qualities required to run their own businesses while pursuing a degree. I specialise in entrepreneurship, inter-firm collaboration, innovation strategy and knowledge exchange. This enables me to be part of fantastic organisations and projects that embrace collaboration and co-creation to support their innovative community engagement initiatives. Prior to joining Brunel, I was a co-Director for MSc Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Enterprise Development at the University of Westminster. I also had worked in University of Wolverhampton and Birkbeck University of London, where I gained my PhD in 2013.  I have an MSc in Operational Research from London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a Bachelor in Financial Engineering (Hons) from Multimedia University, Malaysia. My previous professional experience includes various entrepreneurship, strategy and innovation consulting work in London and abroad. I also have worked for several years with the R&D arm of a telecommunication company in Malaysia. I have secured major grants from Quintin Hogg Trust, European Life Long Learning Programme, British Academy of Management and British Academy/Leverhulme to name a few. I also have won several competitive awards including a grant by the Malaysian government towards my PhD research; Ronald Coase Institute Fellowship and Dynamics of Institutions and Markets (DIME) Fellowship to name a few. My work with my colleagues has won the Best Innovation paper awards at British Academy Management (BAM) 2015. 

Related Research Group(s)


Strategy Entrepreneurship and International Business - Our themes of research range from entrepreneurial and internationalisation strategies of small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to inward and outward investment by large enterprises and supra-national governance.


Entrepreneurship and Sustainability - Our focus is on how individuals, businesses and societies can tap into creative and entrepreneurial flair to develop innovative solutions, in order to not only create economic value, but also solve social and environmental problems.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 09/01/2024