Working in the tourism industry, Sofia recognised the vital role that traditional handicrafts play in attracting visitors to Mexico and keeping its indigenous culture alive. However, she also observed that local artisans often work informally, far from tourist spots, and are significantly underpaid. Sofia established Mexikatekatl in 2013 to support artisans to supply their products to the Mexican tourist industry.
When Sofia joined the programme, she felt a great sense of responsibility for the artisans’ livelihoods, but was unsure of how to grow strategically. She wanted a mentor to help her develop a financial plan, structure her operations and create a sustainable business model. Sofia was matched with Katy, a Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator at Marsh & McLennan in Mexico, with a background in marketing, strategy and partnerships.
Katy had strong knowledge of the social sector in Mexico and introduced Sofia to some key contacts. She also supported Sofia to write a business plan and strengthen her business model. The pair carried out a financial analysis and, after realising that Sofia was underselling, increased her prices to allow for a larger profit margin. They also explored expanding Sofia’s services by offering artisans formal business training on how to market their own products.
Sofia has seen huge growth throughout the year. When she started the programme she had been running her business for a year and was selling products to 10 companies. After her year of mentoring, she was working with over 100 local artisans and selling to 20 companies. As a result, her revenue doubled and she is on track to double it again in her third year of operation.
Using the online forums made Sofia realise that she wasn’t alone in facing challenges. She explained, “The most valuable aspect is to be part of a community of female entrepreneurs. In Mexico there is a lack of connectivity in a community.” Sofia feels that she has become a more focused entrepreneur, and has strengthened her skills in a number of areas, including networking, marketing and management.
Katy relished her first mentoring experience and said it was definitely a two-way process. She felt that the relationship gave her insight into social entrepreneurship and helped inspire her in her own work. Most importantly, Katy said she has made a lifelong friend. She admires Sofia’s passion and is truly inspired by everything she has accomplished.
The most valuable aspect is to be part of a community of female entrepreneurs. In Mexico there is a lack of connectivity in a community.