John-Paul Maxfield, Waste Farmers, Denver, Colorado
John-Paul Maxfield is one of the new faces of entrepreneurship across Colorado, a state where youth and environmental consciousness are combining to create one of the next economic frontiers. Like so many other individuals in the current economy, John-Paul turned to entrepreneurship after losing a job. He decided the time was right to pursue a basic and bold business idea he was passionate about – bringing ecology and economics together to make money from the waste that others toss aside while building a more sustainable agricultural system. In charting this course for his future, John-Paul was also honoring his family’s agricultural roots.
With not much more than a great idea, a bit of savings and boundless entrepreneurial passion, John-Paul launched Waste Farmers, which turns food waste and other organic material from restaurants, hotels, schools, and the agricultural sector in the Denver metro area into nutrients for soil enhancement and high-quality local food production. The aim is to reduce those businesses’ waste removal costs while providing Waste Farmers with the raw material to produce organic soil amendments and produce to sell.
John-Paul’s business idea has quickly caught on. To gather organic waste from its growing client base, Waste Farmers soon needed a recycling truck. John-Paul approached area banks for a loan, but his business, which was nine-months old at the time, did not have the necessary financial history. Then, the Denver Chamber of Commerce put him in touch with Accion. Accion provided John-Paul with a loan to finance the truck, now known as Bertha. Bertha runs on biodiesel made from used cooking oil from Waste Farmers’ restaurant clients and has made tremendous growth possible—sales for the first half of 2011 are up 229% from the same period in 2010. Now the owner of a business that supports six jobs, John-Paul says Accion’s belief in his ability to succeed gave him “an opportunity to pursue the American Dream.”