CREA in Mexico

We are now in Zacatecas, Mexico.Our IBD client CREA is a non-profit organization, which trains and advises low-income women entrepreneurs in rural communities in Mexico to grow their business.Our project is to come out a Life Cycle Analysis of the low-income women entrepreneurs, and to provide strategic recommendations of what CREA should do in each of the Life Cycle phase in order to become a more effective organization, and generate employment opportunities here in Mexico.

To understand more about the Mexican women entrepreneurs (profile, challenges, opportunities, and help needed from CREA etc), our IBD work plan for the first 2 weeks is to interview as many women entrepreneurs as possible. As a team, we came out an interview protocol together, and our goal is to have an overall picture of the Life Cycle after all the observations and conversations we have with the women entrepreneurs.

Today, we are arranged by our client to do an interview with a woman who sells canned olives in Jerez.We spent about 1 hour on the truck, and finally arrived Jerez – a beautiful town in the rural area.The woman’s name is Graciela Escobar Medina.We conduct the interview at her olive factory, which is very clean, big and modern.She started her olive business last year – at the age of 60.She is a series entrepreneur with varies business experiences – she started a night school for the Mexican workers at the age of 17.After that, she started 15 schools for blind people in Mexico.Later she married to a Chinese guy, and went to China to learn how to cook Chinese food and came back to Mexico and opened a Chinese food restaurant.She says that at her age, she has a lot of experience and knowledge that she can apply when thinking about a high quality product. She has a big dream: since Jerez (and many other Mexican cities) is facing the problem of male population outflow, she wants to employ as many women as possible to grow olives in the field and work in her olives factory.

However, after talking more with her, we came to realize that the challenge she is facing now is that her products are NOT selling well, because there’s lack of a market in Zacatecas, and she doesn’t know how to market her products out of Zacatecas.She relies 100% on CREA – our client – to help her do products distribution.And so far she only got access to 3 product fairs, which didn’t really help the sales.From our perspective, for a mature woman entrepreneur who already has good product to sell like Graciela, our client needs to provide a holistic tracking system to understand what help she needs, as well as business consulting / mentor service to help her grow her business in a sustainable way.

After the interview, we went to the Central of Jerez and tour around the beautiful old town.We had a chance to see all those colorful architectures in Jerez.We also went to an ice cream shop, which has 70-year history! The hundred-year old studio was another memorable spot for us.We are having good time interviewing nice people, and visiting Mexican historical sites in our IBD trip!

—Alicia Chen

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