Podemos Progresar, or We Can Move Forward, was founded by Mexico City resident and Dartmouth College graduate Fernando Orta. Mr. Orta started Podemos Progresar in 2009 with the goal of reducing poverty in Mexico City and throughout Mexico. Podemos Progresar approaches this task through comprehensive, community-oriented microfinance programs, community centers, and social projects. All of these initiatives utilize a profitable, free market business model.
Mexican poverty is a complex social, political, geographic, and economic problem that affects individuals, families, and entire communities. About 45 million Mexicans live on less than four dollars per day, and about 20 million live on less than two dollars per day.
Isolating the root causes of poverty in Mexico is difficult. One contributing factor is the human condition, or quality of life, of marginalized members of society. Lack of education, health care, sanitation, food security, and other basic human rights contributes to and perpetuates the condition of poverty for many Mexicans.
A second cause of poverty in Mexico is the country’s domestic and international political and economic conditions. The Mexican government struggles to fund and enact development programs that would lift citizens out of poverty, while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a detriment to much of the country’s economy.
Podemos Progresar addresses the financial problems of poverty in Mexico on the local level by providing communities with the resources necessary to engage in productive and sustainable economic activity. The company works closely with communities to meet their specific technological and industrial needs. Through microfinancing, Podemos Progresar provides financial services to Mexico’s poor, with the goal of improving quality of life over the long run.
But Fernando Orta’s vision for the future of Podemos Progresar includes more than microfinancing: he wants to create a comprehensive business model that frees impoverished communities from the vicious cycle of poverty. He hopes to connect Mexico’s poor with the businesses that provide products they need, and to encourage other businesses to support Mexico’s underserved and marginalized citizens. In addition, Mr. Orta plans to expand the company’s community center program, which offers social services such as assistance in navigating health care systems.
Podemos Progresar hopes to serve as a model for other Mexican businesses in its innovative commitment to helping Mexico’s poor achieve personal economic independence. By connecting with businesses, local communities, individuals, and audiences in Mexico and abroad, Podemos Progresar is changing the global, free market approach to sustainable poverty reduction.
– Kat Henrichs