May 21, 2020 - The Aspen Institute in Mexico City

Spurring Growth, Innovation, and Leadership in Mexico

Harvard University's Kennedy School 

Harvard University's Kennedy School students are collaborating with a private fund manager, the Ananda Group, in Mexico to identify which business accelerator tools are best suited for Mexican women entrepreneurs in the vital environmentally friendly food industries. The research will be presented at the Aspen Institute in Mexico City in collaboration with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE).



Ananda invests in entrepreneurs who are empowering consumers to adopt an ethical, healthy, environmentally conscious and compassionate lifestyle, without the use of animals. They promote businesses that are making plant-based choices accessible to consumers across Mexico, which are primarily run by women. Created and led by women, Ananda actively seeks entrepreneurs to provide them with the specific support they need to make their businesses succeed and grow. Their investments contribute to nine of the Sustainable Development Goals:


Deliverables and Impact

After assessing current models and what Ananda has used thus far, students will provide recommendations in a publishable paper and presentation to Ananda and its network of stakeholders including the Inter-American Development Bank and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. Recommendations will encompass next steps for implementing an effective business accelerator program. The business accelerator, in turn, will address the financial and non-financial challenges and opportunities that women entrepreneurs encounter. It will also provide a comprehensive toolkit to support plant-based enterprises in Mexico. Ananda will use the final product to implement a business accelerator program in 2020 tailored specifically to the needs of Mexican women entrepreneurs, especially in the environmentally friendly food industries. 


The presentation will be held at the Aspen Institute in Mexico City. Special guest speakers will include experts from the Mexican business community and the United Nations.

Our Distinguished Speakers:

Ambassador Enrique Berruga Filloy, Executive Director, Aspen Institute México

Ambassador Berruga Filloy is a Diplomat and writer. He graduated from El colegio de México with a degree in International Relations. He has a master of arts in International Economy and Theory of International Politics from the John Hopkins University in Washington D.C. He is a Permanent Representative of México United Nations.  He served a term as Secretary of Foreign Affairs for Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and the United Nations. Enrique was ambassador for México to the Republic of Costa Rica. He is the author of several works related to foreign policy and international economy.

Roberto Salinas-León, Director, Center for Latin America, Atlas Network

Roberto Salinas-León is President of the Mexico Business Forum, in Mexico City. He is also the Director of the Center for Latin America of Atlas Network.

He holds a B.A. in Political Economy, History and Philosophy from Hillsdale College, Michigan; and an M.A. and Ph. D. in Philosophy, Purdue University, Indiana. 

He has been an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Political Economy at the Escuela Libre de Derecho, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, in Mexico City. He has published over 2,000 editorials (English and Spanish) on policy topics and has been an occasional columnist in The Wall Street Journal, The Journal of Commerce, Investor’s Business Daily, Barrons, among many others. He is also is occasional commentator for CNN, CNN Latinamerica, CNCB, Reuters, the BBC, as well as ADN40 in Mexico City.

Rocío Cavazos, Founder & Managing Partner, Ananda Group 

Rocio Cavazos is a finance and impact investing professional with over 20 years of experience in commercial and investment banking, capital markets, social investing and microfinance. She was Head of Credit at Deutsche Bank’s Global Social Finance group in New York, investing in social enterprises in over 30 countries.

Previously Rocio was CEO of Banco Amigo, a commercial bank serving the working class and microenterprise market in Mexico.  She was CFO of Pro Mujer and she also worked for Women’s World Banking.  Rocio was Vice President at JP Morgan in the International Debt Capital Markets group in New York and worked for the Corporate Banking Division of Banamex in Mexico.

Rocio holds a BSc in Industrial and Systems Engineering from ITESM in Mexico and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

She has been vegan since 2010 and is a founding member of the Steering Committee of FaunAcción, a group that supports Mexican animal rights activists and promotes an anti-speciesist philosophy and a plant-based diet. 

Lucía Rodríguez, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Ananda Group 

Lucía has always worked as a professional and a volunteer. Her experience comes from the financial sector in commercial banking at Bancomext (Mexico´s Export-Import Development Bank) as well as in capital markets and investment banking at Citibank. In the microfinance sector she has worked as a Risk Management Consultant with Development Alternatives, Inc. and was General Manager for a fund financing microfinance institutions in Mexico. 

Always interested in good healthy food, she volunteered as Chairperson for a program educating school communities in nutrition and the benefits of a plant-based diet. She co-authored and published a book supporting this program. Lucia comes to this project with great passion for impact investment, health and the environment.

Lucia holds a BSc in Actuarial Sciences and a master’s degree in Finance from the Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City.


©2019 Women Forward International. All Rights Reserved

Women Forward International is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation