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Microsoft to Invest $1.1 Billion in Mexico Over the Next Five Years, Green Bonds are ‘Selling Like Ice Cream’ and Latin America Wants In, Colombian Hotel Chain Ayenda Raises $8.7M in Latest Round, and More

Other featured stories include: Magma Partners Scores $50M to Build the a16z of Latin America, 5 Tren
LATAM Business Weekly
Microsoft to Invest $1.1 Billion in Mexico Over the Next Five Years, Green Bonds are ‘Selling Like Ice Cream’ and Latin America Wants In, Colombian Hotel Chain Ayenda Raises $8.7M in Latest Round, and More
By dataPlor • Issue #59 • View online
Other featured stories include: Magma Partners Scores $50M to Build the a16z of Latin America, 5 Trends for Latin America’s On Demand Economy in 2020, Latin America 2020: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Protests in Chile Hit Latin America’s Biggest Music Festival, CEO of Mexico-Based Homie Resigns Following Allegations of Sexual Harassment from Job Applicant, Lessons from Brazilian Executive Nelson Narciso Filho, and San Antonio Mom of 9 Creates Business to Provide Jobs for Honduran Women in Poverty.

Microsoft to Invest $1.1 Billion in Mexico Over the Next Five Years
Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella said the company will invest $1.1 billion in Mexico over the next five years, according to a promotional video released by the Mexican government last Thursday.
As reported by Reuters, Nadella said the investment is “focused on expanding access to digital technology for people and organizations across the country.” Microsoft will also invest in training and skills programming, according to Nadella.
Microsoft will build a new data center to deliver “client services to help every organization to really get an advantage and drive digital transformation,” Nadella said.
During his daily morning conference on February 20, President Lopez Obrador said Microsoft’s investment demonstrated that Mexico is an attractive investment destination, with a strong local currency, stable inflation, and prudent debt management by the government.
Green Bonds are ‘Selling Like Ice Cream’ and Latin America Wants In
At least five Latin American governments and several companies are considering debt sales to fund environmentally friendly projects. According to Yahoo Finance, 2020 is expected to be the region’s most active year for issuance of so-called green bonds since 2017.
Sean Kidney, CEO of Climate Bonds Initiative, a London-based nonprofit that promotes the use of the debt, said the governments of Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic are either planning sales or working to establish the framework to issue this year. 
“We’ll see a fair amount of action. The demand is there. Investors and pension funds have become acutely aware of climate change. The green bond is a bit like selling an ice cream on a hot day,”  Kidney said in an interview in Bogotá. 
Although there is still confusion about what actually constitutes a “green” bond, global money managers are increasingly factoring in sustainability when investing. As reported by Yahoo Finance, advocates say that if a borrower is using money for a sustainable project, it’s more likely to be a safe bet.
“While the green bond market has caught fire globally, Latin America has lagged, making up just 2% of the record $205 billion sold last year,” according to data compiled by Bloomberg
Kidney estimates green bond issuance from the region could reach $6 billion this year, while the Inter-American Development Bank forecasts sales could total $7 billion: the highest since a record $7.4 billion in 2017.
Graphic Courtesy of Bloomberg
Graphic Courtesy of Bloomberg
Chile has paved the way in the region. Last month, the country issued euro-and-dollar-denominated green bonds which produced some of its lowest yields ever. According to Marilyn Ceci, a managing director and head of green bonds at JPMorgan Chase & Co. (one of the largest underwriters of sales in Latin America), these yields served as a signal to others in the region. 
“Anytime you see a sovereign issuing a green bond in the market, it gets a lot of attention in that region and in surrounding countries. Certainly, the leadership shown by Chile will resonate well with many others in the region,” Ceci said. 
Mexico looks to be the first in line. BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole CIB and Natixis have been hired for investor meetings beginning this Monday in which the country will unveil its SDG Sovereign Bond Framework, which would be used to issue green euro-denominated debt.
“Corporate issuers are likely to follow the lead of sovereigns,” Ceci added (Yahoo Finance). 
Colombian Hotel Chain Ayenda Raises $8.7M in Latest Round
Ayenda, the largest hotel chain in Colombia, has raised $8.7 million in a new round of funding, according to the company.
Led by Kaszek Ventures, the round will fund the continued expansion of Ayenda’s chain of hotels. Other strategic investors include Irelandia Aviation, Kairos, Altabix and BWG Ventures.
As reported by Tech Crunch, the hotel operator already has 150 hotels operating under its flag in Colombia and has recently expanded to Peru, according to a statement. Ayenda has more than 4,500 rooms under its brand in Colombia and has become the biggest hotel chain in the country.
Through a franchise system, Ayenda works with independent hotels to help them increase their occupancy and services. The hotels apply to be part of the chain and go through an inspection process before they’re approved to open for business.
“With a broad supply of hotels with the best cost-benefit relationship, guests can travel more frequently, accelerating the economy,” says Declan Ryan, Managing Partner at Irelandia Aviation.
Venture capital investments in brick and mortar chains are more common in emerging markets than they are in North America. Other notable transactions include SoftBank Group’s investment in the Indian hotel chain Oyo and an investment made by Tencent, Sequoia China, Baidu Capital and Goldman Sachs, in LvYue Group late last year, which amounted to “several hundred million dollars”, according to a company statement.
“We’re seeking to invest in companies that are redefining the big industries and we found Ayenda, a team that is changing the hotel’s industry in an unprecedented way for the region”, said Nicolas Berman, a partner at Kaszek Ventures.
In 2020, Ayenda hopes to have over 1 million guests in their hotels. The platform provides its customers with inexpensive rooms, listed at $20 per-night, including amenities and an around the clock customer support team.
Magma Partners Scores $50M to Build the a16z of Latin America
Magma Partners has more than doubled the size of its investable capital with the close of its latest $50 million fund. 
As reported by Tech Crunch, the Chile-based venture firm  had secured $21 million that made up the outfit’s second fund, which it raised after closing its debut fund with just $2.5 million. The firm’s largest fund to date comes as investment in Latin America has reached a record high
To date, Magma Partners has made 70 deals and its portfolio has seen three exits. General Partner Nathan Lustig told Tech Crunch that Magma will continue to write $50,000 to $100,000 seed checks, and its larger investments will range from up to $5 million to $7 million. 
The firm is targeting a few niches, including:
  1. Fintech and insurtech companies in Latin America and the solutions that provide the cybersecurity, anti-fraud and identity management API layers needed to support them. 
  2. SaaS companies with tech and sales teams in Latin America that target a global user base.
Magma has attracted its first institutional investor with fund three. IDB Lab, the innovation laboratory of the IDB Group, has approved an investment of $4 million in the fund. Chilean, Colombian and Mexican family offices were the biggest cohort of contributors to the fund, in addition to angel investors in both Latin America and the U.S.
Since inception, Magma has been focused on developing an agency model to support its founders. Since Latin America suffers from a lack of educational content around company building, the firm is launching Magma Media: an in-house, media operations unit that will offer support to portfolio companies. 
According to Tech Crunch, Lustig says that the goal of Magma Media is to build from the ground up the services they wish they’d had as founders. Inspired by the Andreessen Horowitz agency model, Magma also offers to its startup founders content marketing, sales, recruiting and PR services. 
Commenting on the importance of content marketing, Lustig stated “if you have a great product and a great idea but you can’t communicate what you’re doing, no one will buy it.” An in-house recruiter who helps to educate founders on making the right hires is also important, Lustig says, “If you’ve only raised a small round, hiring the wrong person could kill your startup.” 
Magma encourages successful Latin American startups to feed back into the ecosystem by adapting agency-like networks similar to a16z and Y Combinator. Through this model, startups leverage a network of pre-vetted services and sign on as each other’s first customers. 
OmniBank, a Magma company, is already factoring out its financial loan services to a few other companies in its portfolio in efforts to emulate this network model that has seen success in the U.S. 
5 Trends for Latin America’s On Demand Economy in 2020
In the following article published by Global Trade Magazine, our Founder and CEO, Geoffrey Michener, discusses the growth of on-demand startups in Latin America, and 5 trends that will evolve in this rapid growing economy throughout 2020.
Photo Courtesy of Global Trade Magazine
Photo Courtesy of Global Trade Magazine
Latin America’s on-demand economy has been at the top of the region’s startup headlines for over a year. At the end of 2018, Brazil’s iFood raised $500M in the largest startup round of all time in Latin America, beating the total VC investment for 2016 with a single round. Just four months later, Colombia’s Rappi doubled the record, raising $1B from Softbank to attack the region.
A significant portion of Softbank’s massive investments in Latin America has been in on-demand economy startups, such as Loggi and Buser. Cornershop’s acquisition saga, ending in a $450M deal with Uber for 51% of the company, also makes it clear that the gig economy will play a major role in developing Latin America’s tech-driven economy.
The rapid growth of this business model has raised questions about regulations, workers’ rights, safety and fraud, and long-term profitability for investors. It has also created work for thousands of migrants, made consumers’ lives easier, and started generating liquidity and ex-employee groups who can start new companies using their startup experience. As Latin American consumers become accustomed to the on-demand economy, here’s a look at how this market will evolve throughout 2020.
1.Regulatory challenges for the Latin American gig economy.
International on-demand startups like Uber experienced (and continue to experience) a regulatory gray area while entering the Latin American market. As homegrown companies like Rappi, Cornershop, and iFood have become a dominating force across the region, governments may start taking a closer look at workers’ contracts and rights.
In particular, on-demand startups that rely on massive, external workforces have been a significant source of work for migrants who can start working from day one without a contract. Rappi admits that up to 30% of its workers are migrants, many of whom are from Venezuela and are escaping a crisis at home. In 2018, Colombia’s Domicilios (acquired by DeliveryHero) became the first delivery startup to provide social security for its workers.
Governments across the region may begin to expect gig economy startups to provide certain benefits like these to their workers in 2020 as these companies begin to employ a significant portion of Latin American workers.
2.The market opens for companies that support the gig economy. 
The need for further regulation and protection of workers in the gig economy is creating a new market for startups that serve these large companies. Tech startups that provide insurance, fraud prevention, and benefits to on-demand economy workers now have a pool of millions of potential clients who are connected to the region’s mega-startups.
For example, Colombia’s Truora can provide instant background checks for gig economy employees to prevent hiring bottlenecks and fraud. Companies that can offer tech-driven solutions for market research, insurance, healthcare, and financial inclusion for the on-demand economy will continue to grow in parallel to this booming market in 2020.
3.VC Funding for on demand startups holds firm. 
Over the past two years, international VCs have poured billions into the Latin American on-demand economy, creating a market for dozens of competitors in the region’s biggest countries like Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Chile. The growth of the Latin American middle class, almost all of whom has access to a smartphone, is also bolstering the rise of on-demand startups to serve every niche.
While most of these startups struggle to become profitable, even in markets like Latin America and Asia, investors who have backed the on-demand economy in the US and Asia understand the model and are willing to support Latin American versions. As these startups burn a lot of cash quickly, investors will likely continue dropping large checks on the winners as they try to capture the market. Startups that bring an on-demand model into new industries may also benefit from this influx of capital over the next year.
4.Niche copycats from the U.S. and Asia enter the market. 
Latin American consumers have proved to be rapid adopters of on-demand economy solutions, driving new business models to serve an increasingly sophisticated public. For example, Latin America’s ghost kitchens and supermarkets are beginning to raise large rounds in markets like Brazil and Mexico. Brazil’s Mimic, a cloud kitchen startup, recently raised a $9M seed round to expand locally, while Mexico’s Justo, the first “cloud supermarket” for Latin America, raised $10M to consolidate in the Mexican market.
While these models are still in the early stages of development, the on-demand economy will continue expanding into new industries and business models in 2020. Startups are now using gig economy-style workforces for market research, AI precision-testing, and other crowd-sourcing models, as well as new niche delivery markets. As capital continues to flow into on-demand economy startups in 2020, these new applications of the gig worker model will likely proliferate.
5.Competitors consolidate in the biggest markets. 
 Just as investments are driving the growth of new on-demand business models, VC support is also helping consolidate the region’s largest startups into “super-apps” that can solve users’ problems within a single platform. Rappi is one of the best examples of these apps, where users can now book an e-scooter, get money delivered, buy food and groceries, and even pay and send money. While all of the Rappi features are not well-known by users yet, this model hints at a trend toward Asian-style all-in-one apps like WeChat.
Brazil’s Movile has also acquired several regional startups to provide a marketplace of options within its platform, including on-demand delivery (iFood/Mercadoni), video content (PlayKids), and payments (Zoop). These well-funded companies will continue to grow and consolidate in 2020, potentially acquiring smaller startups that can add value for their customers and injecting liquidity into the on-demand startup market.
There are over 415 million mobile phone users in Latin America, over two-thirds of whom access the Internet almost exclusively through their phones. The region’s first on-demand startups have opened the market to reach these consumers by providing them with convenient and affordable services directly through mobile apps. These companies have even found workarounds for payment challenges through cash payments and integrations with local convenience stores to onboard the booming Latin American middle class rapidly. There is still tremendous opportunity to reach Latin Americans with on-demand services in new industries and expand current offerings to new cities and customers throughout 2020.
Latin America 2020: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
When looking at Latin America’s 21 countries, one can quickly conclude that this is not a region moving in unison, but instead represents a region plagued by divergent political and economic situations. 
Latinvex’s Latin America 2020 report analyzes the good, bad, and ugly for the region this year. 
The Good
Brazil:
President Jair Bolsonaro has helped build a pro-reform political construct in congress that the country hasn’t witnessed in almost three decades, producing impressive progress on pension reform and attempts at fiscal and labor reforms that promise to make Brazilian business far more competitive.
Latinvex reports that due to Brazil’s consistently well-run central bank, the country’s Selic rate is at a record low 4.5%. A series of new concessions and privatizations in the infrastructure and energy sectors will fetch over $250 billion of new investment. Brazil’s corporate sector re-structured after three years of recession and is now posting record profits. Additionally, investor spirits are once again high for Brazil.
U.S./ Mexico Relations:
Since Trump was inaugurated, Mexican exports to the U.S. have grown an astounding 24% after stalling for several years. Under the Trump administration, U.S. exports to Mexico have grown a less impressive 9%, while the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico has jumped 55%. In 2016, Mexico was the third largest exporter to the US. Today it is #1. 
Peru:
In spite of the diverse party makeup of Peru’s new congress, analysts believe that President Martin Vizcarra can push through important reforms designed to reduce political corruption as well as rebuild investor confidence in Peru’s commitment to modernizing its infrastructure.
Fiscal reforms and a pension system that were built decades ago together created the highest national savings rate in Latin America, a booming capital market, well-financed banking system, and the region’s most stable traded currency. Mega-projects in mining and energy provide long-term dollar income to fuel one of the strongest consumer markets in the region. Peru has a higher per capita income than Argentina.
Central America:
Since energy prices collapsed in late 2014, Central America has led Latin American growth levels. A strong U.S. economy has boosted total remittances to Central America from $16 billion in 2015 to $22 billion in 2018, a 39%increase. Expanding access to credit has helped a record number of Central Americans buy their first home. 
The Bad
Mexico:
Although Mexican consumers continue to spend due to expanding credit and a healthy consumer balance sheet, the country’s business class has lost confidence in the investment climate. The AMLO administration has angered investors with its socialist rhetoric, incompetent management and political tension. More than 10 disastrous policy decisions- such as the cancellation of the new airport- have undermined confidence. Since Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was elected, the monied class has moved billions (we estimate over $100 billion) of assets out of Mexico.
China’s Impact on Latin American Markets:
As the Chinese government faces shrinking access to its largest customer (USA) and the costly Coronavirus, there may be some short-term opportunistic trade wins for South America. Overall, Chinese GDP growth and trade levels will suffer. Money earmarked for investments overseas in infrastructure - with a substantial amount bound for Latin American markets - will be delayed or canceled. In 2020, Latin America will begin to feel how dependent it has become on Chinese customers and investors to fuel its economy, and it won’t be a good feeling. 
Chile:
Protests erupted again in January 2020, after the riots of October 2019, has led to the promise of a constitutional referendum in April. A discernable lack of trust of the Piñera administration has extended to a distrust for the country’s elite. President Sebastian Piñera has an 11% approval rating (Latinvex). 
The country is poised for more protests through April and if the constitutional changes don’t appease the public’s expectations, protests could potentially continue indefinitely. In October and November of 2019, Chile’s GDP dropped 3.3% year-on-year. If protests continue to interrupt the Chilean economy, Latinvex anticipates a GDP under 1.5% for 2020: almost 2% below what analysts predicted only six months ago.
The Ugly
Venezuela:
Over 6 million Venezuelans have fled their once-wealthy nation. Fitch forecasts that Venezuela’s per capita income will drop from $570 in 2019 to $314 in 2020, making it the second poorest country in the world. These metrics are difficult to measure in an economy where inflation is measured in tens of thousands of percentage points and market share is split between multiple currencies including the Bolivar, the USD, gold and crypto currencies. Opposition leader Juan Guaido has done a skillful job at rallying support both domestically and in the international sphere, and is recognized by many as the de facto President.
Argentina:
$38.7 billion USD is due this year in principal and interest payments on Argentina’s $311 billion foreign debt. Although former President Mauricio Macri won limited credibility among international lenders by closing the chapter on the last default and taking cost-cutting measures, the recently inaugurated Albert Fernández administration is “openly ridiculed in the halls of lending bodies” (Latinvex). A worrisome decision by the Central Bank to ditch economic forecasts because “they damage credibility” attests to the volatility of Argentina’s situation. 
President Fernández hopes to negotiate a debt restructuring with the IMF and European bi-lateral lenders by April 2020, although the IMF’s patience has dwindled and European governments have shifted focus to boosting their national economies. 
Protests in Chile Hit Latin America's Biggest Music Festival
Thousands of protesters clashed with police Sunday as Vina del Mar- Latin America’s biggest music festival-  opened, in the latest spurt of a four-month old wave of grassroots protests over economic inequality and other grievances.
Yahoo reports that police blocked the entrance to a park where the festival was being held in Vina del Mar, a seaside resort about 120 kilometers (75 miles) west of Santiago. Officers used a helicopter and a balloon with surveillance cameras and drove back the protesters with water cannon and tear gas.
“Vandals and criminals are trying to do damage just four blocks from the entrance to the festival. But everything is under control,” Jorge Martinez, the Valparaiso regional governor, told the 24-hour state news channel.
After unsuccessful attempts to enter the festival grounds, protesters attacked nearby shops and the O'Higgins Hotel where many festival artists stay. Tear gas that entered the hotel forced many guests to flee. Protesters also burned at least seven vehicles.
Multiple Grammy-winner Ricky Martin opened the festival. After a two-hour set, he asked Chileans not to remain silent and to demand what they deserve with “love and peace.”
“That (Chileans) express themselves, that they demand the basics, human rights, is basic, we don’t ask for anything. I am with you Chile, never silent, always with love and peace,” the Puerto Rican singer said.
According to Yahoo, Martin said it was “important to let the leaders of our countries know what we need, provided we do so in an orderly manner” at a press conference hours earlier. 
At the protests’ peak, the singer addressed a message to Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera on social media: "You have to know that the will of a people is respected, is obeyed, is fulfilled. Listen to your people.”
Since authorities announced a modest hike in metro fares in the capital Santiago in October, over 30 people have died in protests, yielding an outlet for wider discontent over social and economic inequality and rejection of conservative President Pinera and his government.
A nationwide referendum on changing the constitution is set for April.
CEO of Mexico-Based Homie Resigns Following Allegations of Sexual Harassment from Job Applicant
Jordi Greenham, the co-founder and CEO of Mexican long-term rentals startup Homie, has resigned after a sexual harassment investigation was carried out by the company’s ethics board.
On February 14, the company launched an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Greenham, according to a corporate Facebook post. The message followed reports of sexual harassment that were posted to Facebook earlier the same day. In the messages, a woman (who has asked to remain anonymous to protect her privacy) claimed that CEO Greenham sent her a WhatsApp message around 1:30 a.m. on February 14 to spend the night with him in exchange for 3,000 pesos (about $150 USD).
The woman told Tech Crunch that she met Greenham once through a mutual friend five years ago but had no contact with him since that initial introduction until he reached out to her on LinkedIn in September 2019. She said she’d been interested in a role at the startup, and communicated with Greenham over WhatsApp to arrange interviews and discuss the position. Ultimately, after interviewing for the role, she says she never heard back from the company.
Tech Crunch reached out to both Greenham and Homie on February 21. Homie responded to Tech Crunch’s request for comment on the 23rd with this statement:
“On the 14th of February, the Homie Board of Directors was informed of the unacceptable behavior of the CEO and took immediate action. The Board’s Ethics Committee carried out the necessary investigation and on the 16th of February, after having discussed it internally, Jordi Greenham Asensio resigned as CEO and President of the company. The fast and unwavering action of the Board reflects our commitment for the highest standard of conduct, in all levels of the organization. The opinions and comments of Jordi Greenham no longer represent that of Homie.”
Homie has raised $8.2 million and is currently active in more than 100 Mexican cities. The company recently raised a $7 million Series A round in December 2019 led by Equity International, a fund founded by American billionaire Sam Zell.
Lessons from Brazilian Executive Nelson Narciso Filho
As a black businessman, Nelson Narciso Filho is an exception in Brazil’s corporate world. He’s trying to change that.
Americas Quarterly reports that almost 56% of the Brazilian population is of African descent, accounting for roughly 113 million people. Yet, in the corporate world the representation of black people is largely disproportionate. According to a survey conducted by the Ethos Institute in 2016, out of the 117 of Brazil’s 500 biggest companies surveyed, only 4.7% of executive-level posts and 6.3% of managerial positions are held by those of African descent. The statistics are even worse for black women.
“The fact that we’re an exception is an indicator that something is wrong,” Nelson Narciso Filho, the 64-year-old engineer and businessman said. 
Narciso is committed to changing this reality. His career trajectory has taught him that businesses have everything to gain from inclusion, and that there are concrete steps that companies can take to accomplish this. He suggests that companies should start by organizing open visits to their premises and inviting black, low-income youth to learn about the business. 
“Many of these young people are studying at technical schools or college, but they don’t have any direct knowledge of the corporate world. How can they dream of joining a company they’ve never even heard of and can’t even imagine exists?” Narciso explained. 
Narciso’s career in the oil and gas industry spans the past four decades. He has held top managerial and executive positions with ABB, Vetco Gray, Hughes WKM, HTR Africa and Halliburton Angola. According to Americas Quarterly, he was a director at ANP, the Brazilian energy industry regulatory agency, from 2006 to 2010, where he spearheaded an effective reduction in gas flaring from 17% to 3%. Since 2012, he has been president of NNF Energy Consultancy.
Born in Niterói, a city neighboring Rio de Janeiro, Narciso began his career as a lathe operator after taking a course at Brazil’s oldest naval school. In the mid-1970s, Narciso took a job as a supervising engineer at the EBIN shipyard. Shipbuilding was his first professional experience, as it had been for his father, an assistant welder. Narciso credits the mentors that have stepped in his life at different times with helping him move forward. 
“But how many young people from the periphery, with a great capacity to learn, have the luck of being at the right place and someone noticing them?” he asked a room full of businessmen at a recent event on racial equality organized by Shell Brasil.
San Antonio Mom of 9 Creates Business to Provide Jobs for Honduran Women in Poverty
San Pedro Sula, Honduras is one of the most violent cities in the world, in one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Despite these conditions, some of the women from the poorest areas of the city are providing for their families by creating the most beautiful hand-sewn quilts to sell to Americans online with One Common Thread. 
The Kimball family moved from San Antonio, Texas to Honduras to expand their growing business. Trent Kimball, President/CEO of the San Antonio-based Texas Armoring Corporation, was looking for a place to build a new manufacturing facility and saw an opportunity to help the people in a place he grew to love while serving a mission for his church as a young adult.
“With the caravans and the wave of immigration to the states, we wanted to find a way to help our southern neighbors by creating jobs so they could stay in their home country…We just wanted to help with more than handouts,” Courtney Kimball, Founder of One Common Thread said. 
According to KSAT, during her first few months living in Honduras, Courtney went to the city’s poorest areas, meeting with the women. She wanted to help them in any way she could, and often brought them clothing and other items from friends back in the U.S., but Courtney knew what these women really needed was a way to earn money. 
“Most of these women do not have any sort of income. It’s day-to-day survival of trying to grow, trade or find ways to feed their families. Many of them had children at a very young age and are unable to take even menial jobs, which are few and far between for women of their socio-economic background,” Kimball said.
Kimball got the idea to start One Common Thread after a 12-year-old girl asked her if she knew of a way that she could earn $5.
“At the time, I was busily making a wedding quilt by hand for my oldest daughter, The quilt I was making would take 2,000 hexagons. I offered to pay her $10 to cut out 500 hexagons.”
The task, which would have taken Kimball a couple of weeks to accomplish, was completed in less than a week by the young girl. The next day, the girl’s mom called asking for the same opportunity. Over time, more women started asking about it until Kimball suddenly had a workforce of eager women. 
By selling the products online, they’re able to get more money than they would by selling the products on the streets of San Pedro Sula. Kimball said 100% of the profits go back to the women.
In addition, the women have taken a course on starting a business and learned about taxes and shipping costs. Kimball requires them to open a bank account to keep their money safe.
Kimball and her sister are working to turn One Common Thread into a nonprofit organization, and they hope it will keep growing to help provide jobs for many other women.
“I would love to see these women’s children go to high school and then maybe get a trade school certificate or even a college degree. I would love for them to be a part of the growth of the business and help other women help themselves,” she said.
Photo Courtesy of KSAT
Photo Courtesy of KSAT
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