I was travelling recently near Guanajuato, Mexico, to the small village of Santa Rosa de Lima, population 3000. We visited a cooperative run by five local women called Conservas Santa Rosa. This company was founded in 1998 with support from the government, which sought to exploit natural resources such as wild fruits produced without fertilizers. They started making strawberry jam by hand for the local communities and now have a contract to supply a national restaurant. With this growth they have raised the standard of living of over fifty families and are now sending their children to school. They have been recognized by the UN as a successful rural productive project.
Our guide shared most of this information with us before we exited the bus into the dusty street of this one street village. Having visited many local factories in developing countries on both business and travel trips, I was quite surprised upon entering the storefront area. In addition to the cleanliness and professional attitude, they had proudly painted the following on the wall behind their retail counter.
To be a successful company, maintain unity within the cooperative and incorporate the technology necessary to achieve the export infrastructure; thus creating more jobs for our community.
We maintain the tradition of our customs and care for the environment; are a group of women entrepreneurs canning fruit in the region, with a range of products such as candied sweets, jams, syrups, etc.; to delight the palate of our customers and all those who enjoy artisanal products.
We were given the usual tour and I noticed many pallets stacked high with one gallon buckets of product. I was told this was strawberry jam for Toks, a national restaurant chain. I was so taken by the efficiency of the production area that I requested to speak to the general manager. I was introduced to one of the founders, Martha Ramirez Sanchez and asked about the rapid growth of the business. “For us it was an almost unattainable challenge, some did not want to, but eventually we broke with our fears and decided to do it,” she said, remembering when they got their first order of 500 pails of jam per month. They grew steadily from that first order and are currently delivering between 2 and 2.5 tons of jam every Friday.
Although Toks represents 90% of their income, Conservas Santa Rosa was not content with just making strawberry jam for the restaurant chain and now also produces other typical local fruits such as guava, mango, pear and apple, and has even ventured to make cactus, chili, quince and liquor flavors. In total they sell 42 different products including sauces and nuts.
While receiving a donation from the government or another charitable sponsor is always helpful, it was clear that this team worked together very well and was focused on a common purpose. They followed their vision to create jobs for the community and have succeeded quite well. They are now working to get approval to export to the U.S.
I have visited several hundred companies across the world in my career and cannot remember very many that put their company focus and values on such public display. As we drove away with our newly purchased jams, nuts, sauces and sweets, I was quite inspired by what this small group of folks in this village has accomplished. It occurred to me that as executives we should stop to consider if our organizations are adequately focused around a similar set of guidelines. I performed a Google search on the topic and found a great resource on the basics of developing Vision, Mission and Value statements go to the Free Management Library at http://bit.ly/1F1BZha. It may be worth a few minutes of your time.