Experteering Spotlight: Turning Trash into Treasure in Ecuador with NADENA

Mark Horoszowski

Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of

NADEA Sewing Group

Eliminate trash, educate women, create jobs. That is the story of NADENA in Ecuador.

We had the chance to ask NADENA some questions in hopes of featuring its inspiring work. We were impressed by its innovative business model that sustainably empowers its community while creating environmental good. To learn about NADENA is to learn about innovation, and we hope you enjoy its story as much as we do. And, if you’re interested in supporting NADENA, you can learn about Experteering opportunities with them here, and like them on Facebook.


What is the story of NADENA?

The name of the project NADENA comes from the Spanish phrase Nada de Nada, meaning Nothing At All, which is often the economic situation of the women we work with in Quito. It also describes the recycled and donated materials that we use to make the products that sell and fund the program.

NADENA was founded after Ali Pickard and Jo Hook learned that CENIT (The Cetner for Working Girls in Quito) had unused  sewing machines and a network of many unemployed women. These women were primarily unemployed because of a lack of education, ageism in the workplace, and/or lack of child care services. Ali and Jo saw an opportunity to provide training, make use of unused resources, and create a marketplace for fashionable products that are good for the environment.


What does NADENA do?

NADENA has 3 workshops

  1. Recycled jewelry made from old books, maps, and plastic bags.
  2. A recycled card workshop where we make recycled paper and then hand print designer and retro cards and gift tags.
  3. A new sewing workshop where the women are currently undergoing training with the purpose in the future of making recycled designs from materials such as market bags and coffee sacks.

Founded in 2012, NADENA is already selling these products in a variety of areas, including:

  • Contemporary art museum of Quito(as well as the other main museums)
  • The official tourist sales outlet of the Government of Ecuador
  • Sales cabinets in boutique hotels
  • Currently looking to increase export sales


NADENA earrings


What is one of the proudest accomplishment of NADENA?

Working with all members of the community to turn trash into treasure. When the women we work with realized that if our products are well designed and well-made there is a market for products made from rubbish, and that people will buy them not because the project works with poor people, but because they are desirable and well-produced – it becomes a win for everybody. Not to mention, there is an added bonus is that the products are environmentally friendly, and help women support their families.


Supporting NADENA

Want to learn more about NADENA and social entrepreneurship in Ecuador?? The best thing you can do is go Experteering with NADENA. Learn more about the opportunities they have for skilled volunteers. For a limited time, we’re offering a 25% discount to MovingWorlds membership for anybody interested in Experteering with NADENA. Use the code NADENA-Is-Awesome-2014. In addition to getting paired with NADENA – or other inspiring organizations  – you’ll also get full access to our training and support team to help you find the best place around the world to volunteer your skills.