What challenge is the inspiration for your project?

“My personal link is called Tamara; my daughter. She has a disability”, says Asprodes’ spokesperson in the film you can view here. This not for profit association was created in 1964 thanks to families like Tamara’s, who were looking to promote equal opportunities and improve the quality of life for people with a learning disability and their families.

Using various resources and services and assisted by around 600 workers (a third of whom have a disability), Asprodes helps people develop personal projects as independently as possible, regardless of their abilities, so that they can live life to the full.

Asprodes Plena inclusión Castilla y León supports over 1,000 people with a disability and their families, chiefly in Salamanca and the surrounding province. The association aims to cover all stages of a person’s life, from early years education to training pathways for employment for adults and on to old age, including leisure and sport. There are currently several day centres, a special needs school, an employment centre, adapted housing and a number of homes.

What is the innovation that addresses this problem?

At Asprodes, they are convinced that employment is the best way to truly include all people in society. The association has a business team which, up until a few years ago, focused on providing catering, gardening, cleaning and washing services. These traditional fields have now been added to with other more innovative sectors, such as the tourism industry, creating jobs for people with different abilities. The association directly manages rural accommodation in Béjar and Miranda del Castañar, both of which are 100% accessible. A personal care service for people with a disability is also provided.

The El Arca nursery is another example of the association’s innovation. As well as producing entirely organic products and installing a system to re-use rain and irrigation water, a compost treatment centre can handle around 2,800,000 kg of plant material. All waste from the pruning that takes place, and organic rubbish from the nursery and neighbouring communities and housing areas in Salamanca, are dealt with at the compost plant.

Asprodes integrates innovation into its employment training across a broad range of sectors as well as at its centres and homes. At one of its homes for people with multiple sclerosis, the latest home automation technology is used so that residents can open and close the blinds, or turn the TV on and off, using eye movement.

What impact has Triodos Bank had on your business?

For a start, the impact of Triodos Bank on Asprodes is its financial support, which enables the association to manage all the state assisted places at its centres. In addition, the bank’s most recent funding has led to two new homes for people with disabilities in Salamanca and in Ciudad Rodrigo.

At the same time, the Salarca cooperative, which is run from Asprodes, is also funded by Triodos Bank. This has enabled the set up and operation of the Atair adapted rural tourism centre. This rural tourism centre is located in the beautiful natural area of Béjar. It contains seven holiday cottages and a restaurant that caters for 48 people. It is also an authorised centre for running training in hotel management and tourism. It provides services covering landscape restoration maintenance, organic gardening, biodiversity conservation and land stewardship and forestry management.

The impact of Triodos Bank on Asprodes is not only seen in the funding of its business. In 2017, the association was chosen as a finalist in the Triodos Enterprise Awards, which led to us to make the video you can see here and which also gave us media and social media exposure.

Lastly, Asprode’s organic gardening area, which supports the inclusion of people with disabilities in society and employment, has worked with the Triodos Foundation on its annual gardens that transform project (Huertos que transforman). We have also participated as a member of the jury in the Social Agriculture category within its national awards for educational organic gardens (Huertos Educativos Ecológicos).

What impact has your business had on the sector you work in?

Asprodes’ business cuts across several sectors because it aims to include a diverse range of people into very varied professional areas. This has set a benchmark within the social sector. It has led to association being recognised and awarded many prizes, such as the best business initiative in Salamanca in 2008, best practice in Castilla y León in Rural Development and Disability in 2011, and the 2017 cermi.es award in the Best Practice in Partnership Cooperation category.

What impact has your business had on the community?

All of Asprodes Salamanca’s projects and services promote equal opportunities, regardless of the abilities of each individual.

“We support a coherent and affective policy of education, support and integration into the labour market via protected employment”, states Asprodes representative. Asprodes’ rural accommodation projects in Béjar and Miranda del Castañar and the other compost plant, catering, gardening, environmental, health and social, cleaning and washing services promote equal opportunities and social-employment integration, regardless of the abilities of each individual.

The association manages eight day centres, six homes, 44 flats, 12 training centres, a school and a special employment centre across the province of Salamanca. Last year Asprodes ran 385 leisure services, 60 independent living services, 34 services to promote personal autonomy, 20 respite programmes and 105 training pathways, to name just a few of the projects that the association is working on.

How does Triodos Bank share your vision?

Triodos Bank and Asprodes share a commitment to social and employment integration for people with different abilities. This includes support for their families, creating quality jobs and regenerating rural environments through social economy initiatives.

The association’s projects and initiatives also include two of Triodos Bank’s other specialist financing areas: the environment and culture. On the environmental side, we have the garden centre and nurseries, which include organic farming and energy efficiency practices. And there is also support for the cultural sector from our rural tourism centres, which promote training for people with disabilities and the creation of sustainable jobs and quality of life for people living in rural areas.