A combination of friendship and entrepreneurship has been the formula that produced success for these young Zamoranas.
“The opportunities are everywhere, you only have to take them and work”, say Mariana Pinetta Grajeda and Patricia Gutiérrez Saucedo, young engineers who graduated from ZAMORANO in 2012. They have revolutionized a nostalgic food from Santa Cruz de Bolivia: Mocochinchi, a drink that contains dehydrated peach, cinnamon and cloves. Their venture has been a success and has led them to market the product, Mocochinchi Camba, in well-positioned restaurants and a supermarket in Bolivia. They are in negotiations with several new stores to buy their product as well.
Patricia is from Santa Cruz de Bolivia and Mariana is from Guatemala City. But, what led these young professionals from non-neighboring countries and different cultures to join and undertake this business? According to both, the answer is the friendship they cultivated in ZAMORANO, which is more than friendship. It is Zamorano sisterhood. “One of ZAMORANO’s teachings was that friendship is stronger than anything else and working as a team comes easier and you can reach further because we complement each other’s strengths”, says Mariana.
Two years after graduating, Patricia worked in a small family owned company of bee products founded by her father, Fredy Gutiérrez; and Mariana culminated her work with the Government of Guatemala as part of the scholarship agreement that granted her study in ZAMORANO. One day while talking about their dreams as professionals, they asked themselves what products they could industrialize. With the recommendation of Flor Nuñez, who was their professor at ZAMORANO, they concluded that traditional products from Bolivia were not being industrialized and provided an opportunity. They decided to dream big and they began to mass-produce Mocochinchi. This is a typical drink that can be consumed hot or cold. It contains a peach dehydrated by conditions given in the Bolivian Altiplano, which then re-hydrates in a drink flavored with cinnamon and cloves, explains Patricia.
With this idea in mind, Mariana decided to cross borders, leave her family and her culture, and travel to Bolivia on December 27, 2014. Together, in Bolivia, they began the journey of developing a quality product with traditional flavors, which was easy to prepare by the end consumer and could be mass-produced. “While we were in the developing process, Patricia’s family was our sensory panel. They helped us to improve the flavor of the drink until it became a product with the traditional flavor that in turn would become nostalgic when consumed. We started promoting the product at fairs and people would try the drink and buy it. This encouraged us a lot. It was a boom. Since then, we have been working with three well-known restaurants, a supermarket and we are also in negotiations with other businesses”, says Mariana.
“What motivates us most is to see that Santa Cruz is starting to grow and that there is a great acceptance for traditional products. One of the things that we are the most proud of is the satisfaction that people demonstrate when trying our products and their positive comments about the same”, assures Mariana.
Challenges that Determine Success
These young professionals say that not everything has been easy. Their lives have been full of challenges and opportunities they value. Studying at ZAMORANO was a challenge, as both studied with a scholarship. Their families did not have the economic resources to pay for a university abroad, let alone one known for its academic excellence in the field of agriculture.
They started their business in the kitchen at home with small pots. When the demand for the product increased, they had to buy industrial stoves and pots, and Patricia’s family provided them with a small room in the family business. As the demand for the product increased, they were able to remodel the workspace and now it is being redesigned especially for producing Mocochinchi Camba. Finding the right bottle was also a challenge; however, they have already negotiated with a company to make one that fits their needs. They also redesigned the product label to better reflect the character of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.
“Some of the obstacles have been difficult to overcome; we work during the day to earn the working capital for our business, to which we dedicate our nights. Mariana had to move away from her family and now she visits once a year. Also, the development process of the product took us a long time to perfect since many people gave us their opinions and recommendations. My grandmother said to do it in a certain way, my aunt told us another way to do it. Everyone wanted to contribute. We had to persevere until we reached a point where everyone was happy”, says Patricia.
With effort, dedication and dreams, Patricia and Mariana continue on with their business. The Zamorano education transformed them into entrepreneurs. They agree that what made the greatest impact at ZAMORANO was the shared understanding that dreams can be accomplished with effort, hard work, humility and perseverance. And that you must be creative to solve problems.
Their Goals as Entrepreneurs
Mariana and Patricia have set their sights on creating an industry of Bolivian nostalgic products that will be known for their authentic flavor, nationally and internationally, and to innovate in the industry to be recognized for the quality of their products. They also want to share their experiences and motivate young people to create their own businesses and sources of employment.
Their advice to young people is to value the importance of establishing relationships with people from other cultures, who speak different languages and who have different ways of living and thinking, as this gives a broader vision of what can be achieved as a professional. Transform your small ideas into your biggest dreams and work hard day and night to make them real. You may find many obstacles along the way during this process, but it is better if you find a person to work with you who complements you. As the old saying goes -two heads are better than one.