Space of realities, time for dreams…

Sunday 2 June 2013, by Maria

1 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

L’Auró is a therapeutical farm school specialized in children with special educational needs. The main objective of l’Auró is to promote the autonomy of the user at all levels. The business does so by creating a place without architectural, social or psychological barriers in order to provide inclusive leisure to everyone.

They use horticulture and zoo-therapy as means to educate through leisure. Both zoo-therapy and horticulture are known for their therapeutical power with mental, cognitive, and physic pathologies. The contact with nature, as well as working with animals and plants, promote the rehabilitation of people affected by diseases or by mental and physical limitations. Moreover, they are relevant for the healthy growth and the personal development of children affected by such limitations; and they serve as a very important tool for their families because they allow them to communicate better.

The other main activity of the company consists in offering environmental education. L’Auró offers activities that allow users to understand the consequences of our everyday practices on the nature and how small changes in our daily habits can make a difference. Other practices provide knowledge about renewable energies and the way that they work.

L’Auró not only opens its doors to children with special educational needs. In addition, they provide education to a wide variety of groups:
- Schools: children can learn from and enjoy the activities both by going to camps or by doing extracurricular activities. Camps are adapted to the different needs of each group so that the benefit of the stay can be maximized. Directed to children who live close to l’Auró, the company offers extracurricular activities, a space for fun and creativity. These activities include theatre, visual arts, equine-therapy, and horticulture.
- Families: families can enjoy a new concept of holidays at l’Auró. They can stay at l’Auró and spend their free time surrounded by nature while having a wide range of activities, workshops and cultural visits at their disposal.
- Elderly people: as in the case of families, the elderly can also enjoy a new concept of holidays at l’Auró, which adapts its activities and visits to the characteristics of the visitor.
- Groups and organizations: from business meetings to special ceremonies, the space and the modern installations of the company are a great option.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

This entrepreneurial business addresses ethical challenges thanks to both the activity that l’Auró carries out and the manner in which such activity is conducted.

Social challenges
Through its main activity, l’Auró promotes the integration of people in the society and helps the prevention of discrimination. Moreover, their services encourage family conciliation.
The firm also collaborates with a “Centre Especial de Treball” (Center for Special Jobs) by collecting raw materials that are not used and giving them to a CET that operates a nursery. The CETs are companies that provide paid jobs to disabled people, ensuring their labor integration. Such practice allows l’Auró to help the promotion of labor integration. Besides collaborating with a CET, l’Auró has job offerings in the areas of maintenance and support of activities which are planned to be occupied by people with special limitations.

Environmental challenges
Environmental challenges are also addressed both through the activity of the firm itself and by the methods used to conduct the business.
In terms of the activity, l’Auró offers environmental education. The firm states that as a society we are more and more conscious of the need to rethink our relationship with the Nature. Environmental education is provided because it is essential that we start educating people so that they are responsible consumers and so that they grow knowing that the current economic and social model is not sustainable in the long run, because it does not take into account the deterioration of basic resources such as water, fertile land, healthy food, clean air, etc. To allow future generations the enjoyment of the environment it is crucial that the current generations are educated under values such as sustainability and corresponsibility with the environment.
L’Auró also promotes the recuperation of endangered native animal and vegetal species. This is done thanks to an agreement with l’Arada (an entity that among its objectives has a program aimed at the recuperation of species) and another with Era and Esporus (a seeds bank). In addition, the company preserves the natural and architectonical richness of the immediate environment and they construct using bio-architecture. Furthermore, l’Auró minimizes and adequately manages the waste. Finally, the firm rationalizes the consumption of water and energy by depurating the grey waters of the installation and reutilizing them as irrigation water, as well as by collecting the rain water.

Economic challenges
L’Auró offers its services at a price that makes them economically accessible to everyone but that allows the sustainability of the company.
In order to do so, l’Auró uses social economics, which considers the person to be at the center of the economy. This structure promotes the exchange of personal, professional, and technical resources which reduces the duplicity of management, economizing the resources and consumption. Benefits include the economic profits of l’Auró, the creation of corporate surplus in the sense that people that participate in the economic activity improve as a person, and the creation of social surplus.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

The first thing that makes us believe in the veracity of this company’s ethical claims is its size and structure. The fact that they are a small business means that the people who started this project were completely free to do whatever they wanted. They were not pressured by other stakeholders or investors to deviate from their values. This freedom denotes real passion for the activities offered by the company and the ethical structure of the corporation speaks very highly of the personal ethics of the people involved.

Moreover, the modesty in which they develop and communicate their activity also demonstrates that it is sincere and not part of a green washing campaign as is the case sometimes. Some bigger corporations tend to over promote their ethical activities when this is the case and they lose credibility along the way.

This loss of credibility also occurs when a company’s ethical practices are a very small percentage in relation to the company’s main activity. In the case of l’Auró, ethics are not an extra, but the core business. They “commercialize ethics” and they do it in an ethical way. They are coherent with their values in the 360º of the business’ daily functioning which involves choosing ethical suppliers and all parts of the distribution chain that they are able to control.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

L’Auro is a very inspiring company. It has managed to create the whole business structure on a socially sustainable basis. This represents an incredible and courageous change from the current paradigm of doing business.

All companies aim at making a profit. Nowadays in the best cases, some of these companies try to achieve this in a sustainable way, usually focusing their efforts in only one direction like the environment for instance, because doing more would be too costly. L’Auro, however, bases the whole company, from top to bottom on a series of socially sustainable practices, starting with the environment but also including many others such as providing the handicapped part of society with helpful treatments.

In general we believe that at the moment society disengages itself from these important issues. This is due in great part because of a lack of education in these values. Most people live and are educated in cities; therefore they don’t live in or get to experience nature very well. Of course if you don’t experience something it is harder for you to appreciate it or care for it. Many people do not consider these issues because they are not brought up in their daily life and if they are, they can’t connect with them.

L’Auro tries to change this. They offer “environmental education” for children in a natural setting. They have different activities outdoors planting seeds for instance, and they learn about how renewable natural resources work for example. This gives them a broader perspective on life, about the current issues and the different available options.

The main challenge of the company is that nowadays for the most part people are not very invested on the adoption of these principles. If people do not appreciate or understand the value of this kind of education for their children they will not be willing to take them to l’Auró and contract their services and without clients the business model makes no sense.

Thankfully we are seeing a shift taking place in the general mindset in which these values are being integrated. Even though it is a very slow and costly process, it is in motion and will continue to gather momentum because the benefits for society and for future generations are clear and worthwhile.

With this in mind, L’Auró follows a long term strategy in which they educate children today in values that will make them return as clients tomorrow.

What could help this company is perhaps investment in advertising. Making their existence known to ethically aware customers is the only way to make their client list grow and boost revenues. They could start with low cost alternatives such as getting involved in ethical movements all across Catalonia: associations, clubs, etc.



Location: Torà (Spain)

Sector: Education

Official website: http://www.granjaescolalauro.org/

Key figures:

Number of employees: 6
Country of operations: 1 (Spain)

Nbr. visits: 236

Nbr. inspires: 1