'You can’t do it alone’- Learning from female entrepreneurs

LA CANA is a women-led business that provides jobs to incarcerated women in Mexico. As part of our series of blogs to highlight the impact gender lens investing has on our communities, here’s the story of Raquel and her business. LA CANA is part of New Ventures Mexico, a financial catalyst and Pro Mujer’s ally.

As a law student in Mexico, Raquel Aguirre witnessed the inequalities incarcerated women face every day. She would see mistreatment, lack of access to hygiene products, and indignity in their living conditions.

This experience pushed Raquel and four other women to create LA CANA, a social enterprise committed to provide jobs and trainings to incarcerated women. Raquel and her partners overcame many challenges as they built their social impact business. In the interview below, Raquel shares a few of their learnings:

THE BEGINNING:

“When I saw how women were living in these jails, I knew I had to do something, but at first, I had no idea what exactly it was going to be,” Raquel shared with Pro Mujer.

The group of women, four lawyers and one psychologist, would visit prisons over their weekends to meet with women. They would join them in doing mandala paintings, playing sports in the yard, and watching movies. Eventually, they began offering professional and personal development workshops.

“It was life-changing. We realized we had to do something more impactful that would help these women once they are released from jail,” added Raquel.

La CANA is now a recognized social project that seeks to create job opportunities for women in prison. Incarcerated women produce handmade and artisan products including stuffed animals, scarves and decorations. Their mission is to prepare and help women through their reentry.

La CANA and Pro Mujer worked together to provide free breast cancer screenings to incarcerated women. Learn more here.