Our very own María Pacheco was interviewed by Harper’s Bazaar London to talk about Wakami, her career and our Cause. “In the fashion-accessory industry, go for products that make people look beautiful, but that make the lives of the people that produce them beautiful, too.” :
11 January 2017.
Each week, we interview a successful woman to find out how she made it to the top, and get tips on maintaining a successful work-life balance. This week, we meet Maria Pacheco, the founder and president of Wakami.
- Describe your company and role
I am the founder and president of Wakami, a socially conscious fashion-accessory business connecting rural communities with global markets. We achieve this through a system that allows female entrepreneurs to generate income and sustained prosperity in rural communities of Guatemala and other countries facing similar challenges. Wakami has recently been placed third among the 27 best social businesses of the world following the Chivas The Venture competition.
- Describe your career path
I am a biologist with a master’s degree in agriculture and a strong desire to create harmony between people and nature; this is where I started my entrepreneurial journey. I served as a consultant to both private sector and governmental entities on methods for bringing markets to regions. I was the co-designer of a $60 million loan to Guatemala from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to give market access to more than 300 rural companies. I have also partnered with the UN Foundation USAID and others to implement the Inclusive Business Methodology developed by 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 and bring new people into their value chains are markets that transform the world – one village at a time.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
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 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, understanding their points of view and then deciding which steps to take next.