José Ignacio Pérez Palma
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico
Fellow Since 1990
This profile was prepared when José Ignacio Pérez Palma was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Jose sees micro-business as an underdeveloped but potentially important aspect of Mexico's economy. He attributes its underdevelopment to a paradox: those most in need of advice and servicespoor families and micro-firmsare the least able to pay for it. Hurt by lack of access to credit and information, and by other inefficiencies in their planning, research, production and marketing, these small producers struggle to stay afloat.Jose is developing a new model that breaks this frustrating cycle. First, he has formed a union of over 4,000 pottery producers in the state of Morelos. Jose and the union then provide the potters with specialized economic training, ranging from production control to taxation and a host of economic advantages of scale enjoyed by larger business, such as bulk purchasing, improved credit leverage, and better exporting opportunities.The union supports itself with membership fees, costs that are more than offset by reduced material costs and higher sales for the members. Jose now wants to apply this model to other micro-businesses throughout Mexico.