Anna Zucchetti

Grupo GEA
Year founded: 

Grupo GEA is dedicated to ensuring environmentally sustainable livelihoods for Peru’s urban poor living on the outskirts of the country’s sprawling cities.

Focus: Enterprise Development, Environment
Geographic Area of Impact: Peru
Model: Hybrid Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 10,000 (2009)
Annual Budget: US$ 1.1 million (2009)
Percentage Earned Revenue: 30%
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

In the developing world, the rapid expansion of cities constitutes one of the most important causes of environmental and social deterioration. Lima is no exception. As elsewhere, this expansion results mostly from urban migration, with people moving to the cities to seek greater economic opportunity. Industries also relocate to city outskirts where they can be assured a supply of cheap and plentiful labour. Political discontinuity, vested interests, corruption, weak municipal governments and fragmented approaches to complex problems all explain why cities in the developing countries of Asia and Latin America have a rate of growth four times greater than even the most rapidly growing European cities. Since 1995, Peru has been making a concerted effort to enforce industrial regulations. As a result of international consumer pressure, citizen action and new government policies, companies have begun to comply with the law.

Innovation and Activities
Through applied research and projects, the not-for-profit branch of Grupo GEA contributes to the economic, social and environmental development of communities by helping them develop their natural and cultural resources. The transformational impact of Grupo GEA comes from being one of the first organizations to successfully manage – economically, socially and environmentally – a large area near a rapidly expanding urban centre: the Lurin Valley outside of the Peruvian capital, Lima. The Lurín Valley provides Lima's food, has a rich ecosystem and is home to more than 300 archaeological sites that date back to pre-Inca times. It is also the last green valley near Lima, an unsustainable metropolis of more than 8 million people.

Working closely with local communities in the Lurin Valley, Grupo GEA is bringing together the business community, environmentalists, central and municipal governments, and organizations that promote cultural identity to save the valley from urban sprawl and rampant industrialization. Grupo GEA builds institutional and local capacity through workshops, technical support and financing. In 2007, it set up Vive Valle Verde, a company dedicated to the commercialization of products and services produced by communities and local entrepreneurs from the valleys of Lima.

Grupo GEA has also spearheaded the design of a sustainable development plan together with the 10 Lurín Valley mayors and 70 local leaders and communities. The plan has become the policy framework for the national government’s initiatives on urban development and environmental sustainability. Grupo GEA is currently working to replicate this process in other cities in Peru.

The Entrepreneur
Anna Zucchetti, an Italian by birth, is a biologist educated at Cambridge and Imperial College. Zucchetti came to Peru to work as a biologist for an NGO. Her job was to set up a lab that could test water and soil quality in Lima and the surrounding region. When she arrived, she found that the lab consisted of one antiquated microscope in the dilapidated kitchen of an old house. Undaunted, she returned to Europe and undertook a personal campaign to gather as much laboratory equipment as possible, packed them into boxes and returned to Peru. Under Anna’s leadership, OACA and Ecolab, later brought together under Grupo GEA, have achieved national prominence and community trust.