We’re back in the States (Boston and Santa Cruz, to be exact) busy working on ONDA’s next steps (keep an eye out for our newsletter, which will be in your inbox later this week). We wanted to share one more adventure from our time in Mexico: a day trip to tropical Cuernavaca.
While in Cuernavaca, we had the opportunity to tour a small, woman-owned factory that manufactures botanas, or Mexican snacks. This facility has a focus on healthy, legume-based products like lentils, fava beans, and split peas which are fried and then coated with chiles, lime and salt. We got another chance to watch packaging machines at work (it turns out that our team loves packaging machines), and also got to watch the entire manufacturing process from frying to bagging to labeling.
It was quite hot on the day of our visit. The hero below is tending to lentils coming out of the fryer.
It was fascinating to compare the behemoth Kellogg facility in Querétaro to this modest factory. In spite of its small footprint, the botanas company was capable of producing an impressive amount of snacks. However, the Cuernavaca firm currently lacks FDA approval, which would allow it to export to the U.S. and other attractive foreign markets. There are several low-cost interventions that would enable this factory to operate more safely and, ultimately, more profitably.
We would love to work with microenterprises like this one, but isn’t feasible right now for our team to invest the time and money required to bring the facility up to code. This field trip underscored some of challenges inherent to our mission-driven business. Although we don’t currently have the resources to assist them, my hope is that ONDA will one day be able to address the needs of female-owned microenterprises. To achieve this end, we will 1) create a fund that provides grants to small women-owned businesses to help them grow, and 2) partner with local non-profits and foundations to provide technical assistance and support to grant recipients. Encouraging and funding the evolution of female entrepreneurs from microenterprise to small business is where philanthropy can play a key role in promoting women’s economic development. ONDA strives to create ecosystems that foster this development.
Title image of Jardín Borda courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. All other images are courtesy of the author.