When Ariel Zylbersztejn founded Cinepop, which organizes free outdoor film screenings for people living in rural Mexico, he didn't consider himself a "social entrepreneur." After studying mass communication and film, he says he simply realized he needed a creative way to solve a social problem. Outdoor movies, he discovered, was the solution. "Because the price of a movie ticket is often 20 percent of a family's monthly income, 90 percent of the Mexican population doesn't have access to the movies," says Zylbersztejn, 27. "We began by acting as a bridge between corporations from the big cities and low-income families in rural communities. Along the way, I discovered the huge impact we could have in one event."
After a successful outdoor movie screening in 2004, Cinepop shows more than one film a week in Mexico, reaching upwards of 350,000 people a year. The showings are occasions to promote social programs, like free or low-cost medical consultations and education on self-employment. "At one show, we were able to start 250 lines of microcredit for those wanting to start a business or in need of working capital," says Zylbersztejn. "By bringing a lot of people to the same place, we've found we can do many different things."
Leaders of organizations in China and India are interested in starting their own branches of Cinepop, so Zylbersztejn sees huge potential for his business. But he's adamant about getting the outdoor cinema formula right before expanding to other parts of the world. "Our audiences trust us," he says. "We have to be very cautious about what we offer them and how we partner with companies. It's a huge responsibility. People are learning a lot from what we are doing, and it's inspiring them to start social enterprises. We hope that we and others can do something good for the world."
Source: "Cinepop: Free film screenings in rural Mexico bring community together" by Tiffanie Wen -Ode Magazine (March 2009 issue). Read full article at: http://www.odemagazine.com/doc/61/ariel-zylbersztejn-cinepop/