Maximus in Sri Lanka saw both the need for employment in rural areas and for the conservation of the endangered Sri Lankan elephant.
Maximus Elephant Dung Paper started in 1997 with the intention to marry the interests of job creation, wildlife protection, elephant conservation and rural empowerment through the production of beautiful stationery handmade from 100%waste material.Initially employing just 7 people, this Fair Trade and sustainable company now employs more than 200 people.
The production of the paper brings the elephant into the economy of the village while providing full time sustainable employment in rural areas where there is conflict between the wild elephants and farmers. This employment further reduces the need to clear more land for subsistence farming in these important elephant migration corridors. Maximus is trying to change the perception of rural Sri Lankans so that they come to value the elephants an economic asset rather than as a agricultural pest.
Maximus won the BBC World Challenge, a global competition for small businesses that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level. It has also won the Green America Green Leadership Award for its efforts to build a more socially just and ecologically sustainable economy.
Production of the elephant dung paper also contributes to the Millennium Elephant Foundation which provides a sanctuary for aged elephants and respite care and medical services for working and temple elephants.