Viva Negocios Recognized as a Success

Local businessman Gustavo Woltmann’s interest in reaching out to the youths of Mexico City started with one little boy.

Mr. Woltmann would pass this young boy, whom he speculated was six or seven, nearlyeveryday on his way his way home from the gym. Each day the little boy would be standing on the street corner selling a variety of goods: umbrellas, candy, any cheap item he could turn around for some cash. Seeing this little bo1 stand on the street all day, when he should have been in school made Gustavo Woltmann recognize a hidden potential within the youths of Mexico City.

Today, he has been recognized by the Mexican government for his efforts to teach business to the youths of Mexico City on several occasions. Mr. Woltmann, a business consultant for Aon Inc., has been offering his business knowledge to young entrepreneurs on a pro bono basis for the past two years. He is looking to make a difference in a city where economic successes are few and far between.

Gustavo Woltmann has worked for Aon Inc. for over 10 years.  Aon Inc. is a large multinational corporation focusing on consulting and insurance. The company has over 62,000 employees scattered over 120 countries.  It is one of the largest business consulting firms in the world. Gustavo’s role within the company is management consulting, and with this latest project, he has turned that knowledge into a program to teach the young people of Mexico City how to start their own small business, called Viva Negocios.

“These essential skills are not being communicated effectively at a young age in our communities, which is why many new businesses fail and why kids are turning to the streets to make a buck. I want to foster a desire in these kids to start healthy new business, not run errands for cheap, or worse…turn to selling drugs.”

Woltmann understands it is a difficult dream to sell since most businesses fail within their first three years, but he thinks that it does not have to be this way. Besides teaching the basics of business, Woltmann teaches a ‘yes, we can’ approach to funding and streamlining new start-ups, and offering suggestions which trim expenses while still providing a high level of service.

The room for small business start-ups may seem implausible in a city notorious for its high population and extensive existing industries. These industries such as: metal and plastic fabrication, chemical and pharmaceutical production are areas of commerce that Gustavo Woltmann feels that attention needs to be focused less on. With pollution at an all time high in the city, Woltmann promotes smaller scale, greener business to his students.

Aside from business strategies, he is also focusing on teaching basic life skills to his young students. He concentrates on issues that revolve around starting a small business such as: how to overcome fears of failure, the importance of goal setting and other emotional issues.

Several of his older pupils have gone on to make successful small businesses, many of them in growing niche markets.

“I didn’t want to work in the factories…and I didn’t want to work picking vegetables. I didn’t want to flee my country…and I didn’t want to sell gum on the street corners. If it weren’t for Mr. Woltmann telling me that I can start something by myself, I probably would be a lot more miserable than I am now, and probably a lot poorer.”

Miguel Rivera is one of those students that started a successful small business. A year ago, he opened a hamburger cart just outside of the city near a string of hotels. With his own personal dedication and the savvy handed down by Mr. Woltmann , Miguel has been turning a healthy profit and hopes to open a second and larger cart soon.
“It is my belief that you must have passion for the product you’re selling or you’ll never stick it out for the long haul”, says Woltmann.

These success stories are living proof that, what Woltmann is teaching, is reaching a hungry audience which is yearning for a way out.

He has worked with most of the local charities in the area, but has also worked with Fundacion Vamos Mexico and the Global Youth Action Network. His latest recognition was for teaching other business consultants his program as well as getting his program accepted into the local school’s curriculum.

In this version of the program, he provides students the vital tools they need to start up their own businesses. It offers simple lessons such as: how to write a business plan, how supply and demand functions and, how to generate a marketable product. This is all cleverly written in simple language that is easy for children to grasp. The program also teaches basic Internet skills, and how to set up an online business; skills that Woltmann says are key for success in business today.
“Young people have amazing tenacity and drive to succeed. Especially in a city such this, where they see failure and poverty frequently. This willingness to work harder than anyone else, persistently, for a long time yields far better results than having a large start up or established name or brand recognition. Presenting them with the obstacles they’ll have to overcome and solutions on how to overcome those obstacles, is what makes the program work.”

By stimulating the local economy with these potential new businesses, he hopes to reduce the need for people to make dangerous trips out of the country to look for work. He also hope that his program diverts young people from the desire to join street gangs or linking up with drug cartels, through teaching them empowering and legal entrepreneurial skills.