Youth boosts social change in Mexico

A Mexican woman working on traditional embroidery. Credit: Someone Somewhere staff

A Mexican woman working on traditional embroidery. Credit: Someone Somewhere staff

In Mexico, popular culture tends to blame the government for almost all the problems the nation faces. Indeed, corruption and impunity have been present in the Mexican political system.

However, as Joseph de Maistre said 205 years ago: “Every country gets the government it deserves.” It is a tough quote for a society that is not willing to accept its responsibility in building a fair and equal Mexico.

Equality is an unknown term to millions of Mexicans. The poor application of the present economic system in addition to an individualistic culture have pushed Mexico towards inequality. Among OECD members, Mexico has the second most unequal income distribution, with Chile ranking first.

According to a United Nations report, 10 percent of the population holds 42 percent of all income in this country. The poorest 10 have only 1.3 percent of the remaining income. Mexico ranks among the 15 largest economies in the world while also ranking fourth for the largest amount of poverty among the richest nations.

In a nation where 50 million people, 42 percent of the total population, live in some level of poverty according to Mexico’s social development agency, citizens have gathered to find solutions to their problems.

Unreasonable Mexico is an institute created three years ago in Aguscalientes. It supports entrepreneurs who are looking to solve their country’s most urgent social issues. Hundreds of entrepreneurs from around Mexico apply to Unreasonable Mexico every year.

Unreasonable Mexico chooses 15 entrepreneurs, who work alongside them for five weeks. Young entrepreneurs get the opportunity to learn from people with successful careers in big corporations and as entrepreneurs. The participants develop their skills and have the chance to gain funding from 25 different investment funds.

Entrepreneurship is common among all of Mexico’s economic groups. Social entrepreneurship is a growing movement to change the country, and youth are taking control. Someone Somewhere is a startup created by four Mexican students in their pursuit of a “fairer country.” They work towards this goal by linking the advanced knitting techniques practiced by local artisans with fashion-forward millennials.

The founders of the project realized that youth spend millions of dollars yearly in clothes worn just a few times before buying new garments. They wanted to reduce waste while empowering local artisans by creating a clothing line that would combine what youth currently wear and what women in Mexican rural areas create.

Artisans in Mexico. Credit: Someone Somewhere staff

Artisans in Mexico. Credit: Someone Somewhere staff

They traveled to some of the poorest areas in Mexico like Puebla, Chiapas and Oaxaca where they found people who shared a problem. They produced high quality products with no demand. Artisans in the different states used to knit diverse styles of embroidery which Someone Somewhere is using to create an attractive and diverse clothing line.

Five years after its launch, Someone Somewhere is alleviating a social problem by giving jobs to more than 130 people in three different states. But its work is more than just employing artisans. Someone Somewhere offers workshops to them and their families on topics like personal finances and management. Since 53 percent of the rural population in the country has an education level below seventh grade, this advice can help them maximize the use of their income. Though youth have taken initiative, many are unhappy with the government’s lack of involvement.

“The government should be a facilitator offering a platform where society is able to lead the change,” said Raúl De Anda, co-founder of Unreasonable Mexico. He believes that in a world where social problems grow at an incredible speed, entrepreneurship is the fastest way to reach solutions. His initiative alone has provided widespread solutions 110,000 people have been benefited via companies advised by the institute.

Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV