Born and raised in Mexico City I was very enthusiastic when I heard that my high school alma mater, Tecnológico de Monterrey (TEC), had a new major in social entrepreneurship, or as they call it “emprendimiento cultural y social”. During my last visit home, I was eager to meet with the program director to better understand the program and its goals for the future.
After a warm introduction we both started asking rapid-fire questions back and forth regarding the different academic programs we were involved in. I told her about the great learning experiences I have had with the Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) in Dominican Republic, South Africa and Nicaragua and how these programs have made me devoted to poverty alleviation. While the academic curriculum at TEC doesn´t offer international programs yet they do have a strong connection to the community close to campus, one of the most impoverished communities in Mexico City.
The students at TEC have developed business project proposals, which seems to be good sign for the program’s success. One of the most well-known business projects that started in the classroom is Flor de Mayo, a social business that employs indigenous women artisans to create beautiful apparel with a traditional touch. Flor de Mayo empowers women not only by providing them a fair wage but also by teaching them the necessary business skills to develop their commerce. The business is still running and their products are now being sold internationally in Miami, FL.
However, TEC is at a crossroads. Since it is a new major the university is still deciding the best way to expand the program. They offer a social entrepreneurship week bringing international and national speakers and presenting projects created by students. Since a socially responsible mindset has always been part of the foundations of the university they are debating on whether or not to continue expansion of the major or simply create a social entrepreneurship class to be incorporated into the university’s core curriculum (from Marketing majors to Engineering majors). Interestingly, EGADE Business School, has already decided to incorporate social entrepreneurship into their curriculum given a high demand on the part of their graduate students.
Exhilarated by the major developments in the area of social entrepreneurship in my country I decided to do more research about Mexican entrepreneurs in this sector. The most promising projects I came across were projects selected by Ashoka Mexico and Central America. It was heartwarming to see that these organizations understand and follow the six-step framework that we use at SEI that consists of: motivation of the founder, business model, innovation, measuring evaluation, sustainability and replication. I am confident that if these organizations continue with their great work they will achieve real poverty alleviation.
I am proud to say that Mexico is not getting left behind in this field, as a matter of fact from November 27-28th the Global Social Business Summit will be taking place in Mexico City. This worldwide leading forum with the aim of spreading awareness of social business will host great speakers such as Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Now more than ever I feel optimistic about the future of social entrepreneurship in Mexico.