At the moment, social and economic status remain subject to zip code in Mexico—what some might call a zip-code reality. In a country that the richest man in the world calls home but still has 53.5 percent of its population living in poverty—almost one out of seven Mexicans living in extreme poverty—the challenges entrepreneurs are trying to solve are no longer just important, but urgent.
So what the &*#% is happening in Mexico? Rarely does the word “transparency” come to mind when someone mentions Mexico, but after five weeks at the first Unreasonable Mexico Institute—what we like to call Instituto Irrazonable—it’s impossible to hide the simple fact that we are seeing an amazing movement take shape. And it’s being fueled by entrepreneurs. One month after we hosted 19 Unreasonable entrepreneurs solving problems ranging from access to clean water in rural areas, health, and education to traffic and smog, we can say that the zip-code reality is changing. And this is that change—and I mean that real, long-lasting, reshaping-countries change—that can only be done by entrepreneurs who not only dare to dream of a different world, and act and build it.
The challenges entrepreneurs are trying to solve are no longer just important, but urgent Tweet This Quote
A couple examples:
Fermin Reygadas, co-founder and executive director of Cántaro Azul, is one of those entrepreneurs solving Mexico’s toughest problems in accessible drinking water. It is not unusual to see houses with pools in their backyards less than a mile away from houses that don’t have water draining systems or even access to clean water. That is just a zip code of distance, but it represents at least a 70-year development gap between rich and poor. Fermín uses a franchising model that employs local women to bring clean drinking water to rural communities. In the next 5 years he is looking to scale from 10,000 current beneficiaries to one million with Montse Mora, director of the impact investment fund called Spectron, and other Unreasonable mentors.
High interest rates plague 80 percent of Mexico’s adult population who are stuck with abusive money lenders that force them to buy products and services 2X or 3X their actual price. Imagine making minimum wage and spending eight days of your salary on one pan to cook breakfast for your kids. How could you afford health services like diabetes treatments or cataracts surgeries? Well, Enrique Bay, founder of Kiwi, is helping those families afford products and services at their actual price through pre-payment plans, training methods, and reminders. This past August, eight people were able to regain their eyesight through his beta platform. During the Institute he worked hand-in-hand working with two Méxican microfinance pioneers and Arturo Galván—who the Wall Street Journal calls the “Apostle of the Internet” for co-founding the company that brought internet to Latin America.
Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to turn contrasts in Mexico into pages in history books Tweet This Quote
The magic is in the relationships. For instance, Sebastian García-López and Nicolás Guerrero, founders of Nomad Republic, create volunteer programs for students to serve in rural communities in Mexico and around the world. The two 20-year-old entrepreneurs now have enough capital—thanks to one of the founders of Mexico’s first artificial intelligence company, Ricardo Montes de Oca—to finance their startup operations for two years.
These meaningful interactions between entrepreneurs, mentors and investors give us a sense of trust—not only hope—that we will have an positive impact on the course of our history. I am speaking on behalf of every person who made this Institute possible—from my teammates (Jose, Luis, Sarita, + 5 amazing people who joined us for the summer) to our entrepreneurs, mentors, friends, investors, girlfriends and parents who have never stopped supporting us—when I say that the Instituto Irrazonable is bringing an entrepreneurial movement to Mexico. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to turn the contrasts in Mexico into pages in history books—so zip codes will no longer determine the kind of life anyone gets to live.
Please, check the rest of the Unreasonable Mexico movement in this series and get lost in the magic that is being made by truly incredible human beings!