Cinepop: combining movies, microfinance, and community empowerment

Posted by on March 25, 2009 in Entrepreneurship, Health, Microfinance, North America, World


The typical cost of a movie relative to the average American monthly family budget is approximately 1%. Fairly insignificant. In Mexico, however, that cost is approximately 20% of a family’s monthly budget. Extremely significant and understandably prohibitive. It is no surprise then that simply going to the movies is a luxury to the average Mexican family. This is especially true for families in poor urban areas and rural towns in Mexico.

Enter social entrepreneur Ariel Zylbersztejn.


Zylbersztejn is the founder of Cinepop, a company which organizes free, large scale movie screenings in rural Mexico. Each screening is open to the public and all are encouraged to come and enjoy the magic of movies. In doing so, Cinepop has turned the traditional movie making business model on its head. Instead of prohibitively priced, limited seating movie theatres afforded only to the middle class or wealthy, Cinepop screenings are large enough to easily accommodate thousands and are free so thousands can come.


To offset the free movie screenings, Cinepop sells sponsorship to targeted corporate partners who have the opportunity to freely promote their businesses to a captive and enthusiastic audience. A distinguishing characteristic of Cinepop corporate sponsors is that many of them operate social businesses which provide basic services to poor. Among the various sponsors are microfinance organizations, low-cost medical clinics, housing projects, and education organizations.

The model has worked remarkably well thus far. In fact, since founding in 2004, Cinepop has expanded to eight cities in Mexico and has been able provide over to 350,000 people annually with free, family friendly entertainment as well as opportunities to enhance the quality of their lives via corporate partnerships. At one showing, there were over 200 people in line to inquire about micro financing opportunities available. And according to Zylbersztejn, Mexico is just the beginning. He has plans to bring Cinepop to China, India, and Brazil in the near future.



  • Cinepop provides free movie screenings to families in rural Mexico. Movies are made free by partnering with socially conscious corporate partners who offer basic services to the poor.
  • Organization Type: For-Profit
  • Website:
  • Founder(s):Ariel Zylbersztejn
  • Founded:2004
  • Location:Naucalpan, Mexico
  • Complete company list here

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Erik is a perpetually curious social innovator. As a serial entrepreneur, Erik knows a thing or two about change. As a co-founder of SocialEarth, Erik hopes to channel his passion for social advocacy into an innovative venue of social awareness for others.

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