Female Digital Entrepreneurs Make Their Way in MexicoBy Ingo Babrikowski | Mon, 10/04/2021 - 15:11
The logistics industry has been both a witness and protagonist in the global commercial transformation and in the accelerated growth of e-commerce. In an uncertain scenario, resource generation has forged ahead at all costs. The World Trade Organization Barometer on Trade in Goods states that the global movement of goods continues to recover strongly from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last reading, published on Aug. 18, it totaled an unprecedented 110.4 points, the highest recorded since the indicator was first published in July 2016.
For its part, e-commerce continues to gain ground as the most effective way of moving such merchandise. According to Kantar, in the first quarter of 2021, this activity had already grown five times more than in the same period of 2020.
These results are largely driven by technology, which continues to offer new possibilities. The confinement and the closure of activities were fertile ground to consolidate its dominance, largely due to the increased connectivity offered by mobile devices. Today, user experience is focused on augmented reality and georeferencing solutions thought and designed from and for mobile.
Beyond the big global indicators, each country has experienced the challenges imposed by the pandemic in a particular way. In Mexico, the sanitary crisis caused the loss of 647,710 formal jobs registered by the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS); however, there is another segment of commercial activity in Mexico found in markets on wheels, bazaars or street shops that, according to INEGI, at the end of 2019 represented 23 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and that largely had to stop its activity, either due to lack of customers on the streets or by official provision.
The situation for thousands of households instantly became difficult. Monthly expenses still had to be paid, one or two sources of income disappeared, and children started studying from home, causing a severe crisis in the family micro universes that were, in many cases, drivers of entrepreneurship.
Whether undertaken out of necessity or opportunity, entrepreneurs have been the "lifeline" for the economy. Although in 2020 just over 1.01 million SMEs closed permanently (INEGI), the figure could have been much higher; in this period, entrepreneurs, especially women, put into practice the Mexican characteristic of creativity, which comes out in the most difficult moments.
These women are generating income of up to MX$11,000 (US$546) a month on average, and they do it almost always from their mobile phones while taking care of their children and managing their homes.
Taking advantage of the growth potential of this group of digital female entrepreneurs will depend, to a considerable extent, on the professionalization they achieve with their businesses. I understand that many of them will want to keep their area of influence limited to a neighborhood, or to the city in which they live, but, in Mexico, there are 100 million users of social networks that represent only 77 percent of the total. The “Nenis,” or the female entrepreneurs who want to go further with their products, require support to overcome fundamental issues that hinder their growth, such as access to financial services, logistics, and security.
In financial matters, they require, for example, access to microloans that allow them to invest in their businesses, to have a small inventory to move faster and to improve their product offering while increasing their sales prospects. Although various financial products have emerged in Mexico recently, including debit and credit cards to increase the number of financial transactions and facilitate resource management for many of them, banking operations represent a step into the unknown.
It is also necessary to increase the availability of payment methods in places close to their location and that of their customers.
A female entrepreneur who can produce or assemble products that are attractive enough to capture the attention of customers and who meet a variety of orders, deserves to have a delivery service that completes the shopping experience with a satisfactory conclusion, safely and at an appropriate price. Currently, these women make the deliveries themselves by agreeing to the delivery at points common with their customers, with the limitations of time and space that this may represent. In addition, this practice puts them at risk of suffering theft or some other type of abuse.
While it is true that the cost of shipping a product must be adequately related to different factors, such as its value, the distance, or the estimated distance and time for the delivery, at Estafeta we have been working for a long time to create service options capable of anticipating the need of our customers.
Our strength in infrastructure allows us to be flexible in our service models; we have a wide network of contact points, more than 1,800 throughout the country, and convenience stores and small stores act as allies to receive and deliver packages.
With the Logistic Development Center that we have recently launched to advise micro, small, and medium-sized companies on topics such as packaging, service configuration, integration to supply chains, or location of export and import opportunities, entrepreneurs can count on the necessary advice so that their business can expand its influence toward other localities, states and — why not? — to other countries.
It may be that a health crisis with severe implications for the world of work, such as that which we are going through, has been the trigger for new sales models but it is necessary for service providers to do our part in designing new products that adapt to the needs of entrepreneurs. Only in this way will the premise established by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter be fulfilled, on the importance and relevance of the entrepreneurs for the economy, as the mechanism that replaces obsolete activities and replaces them with innovations in the process called creative destruction, that allows economies to renew during crises.