January 11th, 2017
Each week, we interview a successful woman to find out how she made it to the top. We’re able to get tips on maintaining a successful work-life balance. This week, we meet Maria Pacheco, the founder and president of Wakami.
Describe your company, Wakami, and your role
I am the founder and president of Wakami. It’s a socially conscious fashion-accessory business. Therefore, it connects rural communities and global markets. We achieve this through a special system. It allows female entrepreneurs to generate income and sustained prosperity in rural communities. These communities are from Guatemala and other countries facing similar challenges. Hence, Wakami has recently been placed 3rd among the 27 best social businesses of the world. This happened after the Chivas Regal The Venture competition in 2015.
Describe your career path
I am a Biologist with a Master’s degree in Agriculture. I posses a strong desire to create harmony between people and nature. Due to this desire, I started my entrepreneurial journey. I served as a consultant to private sector and governmental entities, on methods for bringing markets to rural regions. I was the co-designer of a $60 million loan to Guatemala from the World Bank. This loan was also from the Inter-American Development Bank. As a result, it gave market access to more than 300 rural companies. Also, I have partnered with the UN Foundation USAID and others to implement the Inclusive Business Methodology. We developed this method at Wakami.
What has been the most positive surprise to you in your career?
The power of markets to transform social and ecological realities. Markets that recognise the importance of ancestral cultures, recover ecosystems. Likewise, they bring new people into their value chains. These are markets that transform the world one village at a time.
What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
First of all, observing the change in the lives of the women we work with and their families. Seeing their new homes, their daughters graduating from high school and going to college… Their empowerment. Witnessing the dreams of the Wakami team becoming real has been important as well. It empowers me and gives me the hope that change is possible.
What skill do you think has been most critical to your success?
Listening to people. Initially, this meant listening to the women in the villages. Now, it means listening to my team and to the different stakeholders with an open mind. Similarly, understanding their points of view and then deciding which steps to take next.
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