Puebla is the fourth largest city and metropolitan area in Mexico, however, its local economic development and job creation are limited to industries such as metals, chemicals, electronics, textiles, and food processing. Moreover, companies in these sectors tend to be dominated by a single employer and pay low-margin salaries.
At the same time, Puebla has the second largest number of public and private universities in the country, only second after Mexico City, and a highly educated young workforce. Yet, they are not staying – Puebla has more than 100,000 economic migrants living the United States.
As in many Latin American cities, Puebla faces the challenge of strengthening both its local economy and its communities’ social fabric. Indeed, there is an urgent need to diversify its products and markets, develop its small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and reduce the need to migrate for economic reasons. At the core, Puebla needs to make its local economy more dynamic, and SMEs represent an opportunity to do so.
AND Metropolitan Partners, an interdisciplinary group concerned with fostering a culture of cooperation to improve families, firms, and cities in Latin America, asked the team to create a concept, strategy, and a framework for a multi-geographical space to collaborate, designed for the city of Puebla, and potentially applicable to other cities in Latin America.
The platform was meant to give local SMEs a for-profit business model and also support people (especially youth) who want to work for such ventures. This approach was intended to do more than just spur economic activity or connect people to jobs – the platform needed to get at the core of people’s motivations and link small businesses to neighborhoods and communities.
The team designed an online platform to help SMEs in Puebla achieve better communication and collaboration across geographical boundaries. The platform included the following features: