Nestled in the lush tropical region of Mexico, a remarkable entrepreneur by the name of Mary Carmen Stivalet has been breaking barriers and redefining the farming industry. She had no prior experience in agriculture, and her only exposure was accompanying her father to the farm. When her father passed away, she knew that she wanted to continue his 70-year legacy.
The unpeeled truth
Women entrepreneurship is not an easy road to walk in Mexico. Despite efforts to promote gender equality and women empowerment, women still face a vast number of challenges that make it difficult for them to succeed. “Most of the time I am the only woman in a meeting or conference. When I walk in, I see a surprised look on many faces as they were obviously expecting a man,” said Mary Carmen.
Managing family dynamics
Things were not the same after Mary Carmen lost her father. “Taking my part of the business from my brothers was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do,” she said. “The discussions and negotiations were intense, and there were moments when it seemed like we would never reach an agreement. But I had to take this step to pursue my own dreams and ambitions. There were moments when I felt guilty about potentially causing friction and division within the family, but I knew that it was the right thing to do for everyone involved,” she added. With a supportive husband and encouraging children, Mary Carmen took her father’s legacy to new heights.
Life is a Bunch of Bananas with Vida
With her infectious energy and determination, Mary Carmen managed to transform the business into a thriving enterprise. She knew that the key to success was not just producing high-quality bananas, but also finding creative ways to market them. Under the brand name ‘Vida,’ she exports 60% of her produce and sells the rest locally. “My father always said that no matter how many curveballs life throws at you, the game must go on and that’s the reason I call my brand Vida, which signifies life goes on in Spanish.”
Going bananas for good
As her business grew, Mary Carmen became a respected member of her community, not just for her delicious bananas but also for her commitment to the well-being of her employees and society. Her organization provides a wide range of health and education benefits to employees and their families.
The Sweet Taste of Empowerment
While pursuing her post-graduation at IPADE Business School in 2022, Mary Carmen heard about WEConnect International and immediately connected. She had a strong desire to get certified, and today Kavidac Produce has a women owned certificate, managed by WBENC & WEConnect International. “I know this will help raise awareness for minority and women business owners, and ultimately take my business to another level,” concluded Mary Carmen.
Her story is an inspiration to all women entrepreneurs who face adversity and discrimination. So, the next time you bite into a sweet banana, remember that there is a determined and creative entrepreneur like Mary Carmen behind it, slaying the farming game! Here is wishing our Bananapreneur all the success and fruitful relationship with WEConnect International.