Mexico: “Anyone who experiences the culture is tremendously lucky.”

Dawin Meckel/Ostkreuz
Responsible Leadership

This December, members of BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network will gather in Mérida, Mexico, for the 6th World Responsible Leaders Forum entitled “Connecting our Community.” In this series leading towards the Forum, Responsible Leaders from Mexico present their diverse perspectives on their home country – their inspirations, challenges, and opportunities to work towards a more sustainable, peaceful, and just future. Mina Lópezlugo is one of them.

What are you known for?

Mina Lópezlugo: I think… for having my hands in everything! I have been lucky to have a life full of different types of experiences. For almost ten years, I had a very successful business career in several corporations. I also worked for the federal government and the social ecosystem. The common thread is that I have always worked with and supported entrepreneurs. I have found my place in the provision of resources for the development of innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Fun fact: Who is your most famous relative?

Mina Lópezlugo: I always thought it was Almaquio Tovar, a great-grandfather who fought in the Mexican Revolution and was Governor of Hidalgo for a few days. But I found out that a cousin created the smallest Mexican space engine in the universe, and currently works in aeronautics at MIT. I think that’s much more interesting.

Mina Lopezlugo

Mina Lópezlugo

Mina Lópezlugo was born in the State of Mexico and lives in Mexico City. She is a social entrepreneur and founder of Pro Bono Venture, an organization devoted to talent investment and, very soon, to venture philanthropy for social stakeholders of high-impact potential. Mina is part of the Global Pro Bono Network, which was co-created by the BMW Foundation.

Is your work related to the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda?

Mina Lópezlugo: 100 percent! It is a privilege to be able to work aiming at all of the SDGs. We support all types of stakeholders, from the government to nonprofit organizations, social enterprises, and social entrepreneurs, dealing with all types of subject matters, from technology to human rights, health, and socio-economic development.

How does your work contribute to the improvement of the country?

Mina Lópezlugo: We recently made an estimate of the impact of the initiatives we have supported with this type of investments, and we found out that almost 3 million people have directly benefited over the last two years.

Street trader at the beach in Tijuana, Mexico. Marc Beckmann

How do you inspire Responsible Leadership?

Mina Lópezlugo: By acting as a bridge between impact-related topics and people who are not familiar with them. Regardless of their gender, age or nationality, people always want to know how to participate.

How do you envision Mexico in 2030?

Mina Lópezlugo: I envision Mexico to have more active and well-informed citizens. Eleven years is a short time, but if we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, we would certainly be on the path towards having empowered citizens, solid institutions, and better laws that promote the common welfare.

"In my opinion, the most urgent challenge is inequality."
Mina Lópezlugo

What is the most urgent challenge in Mexico? Who can solve it?

Mina Lópezlugo: Mexico is a country of marked contrasts, where having a decent standard of living is the privilege of a few. In my opinion, the most urgent challenge is inequality. It is a complex, multi-dimensional problem, because it’s not only about economic inequality or the right to well-being; it is about discrimination and having access to opportunities. It’s everyone’s problem, and we all need to solve it.

Regarding the World Responsible Leaders Forum, how can a global community like the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network bring about positive change?

Mina Lópezlugo: If every Responsible Leader who knows our country is willing to open up to the experience of relating to the environment and of establishing a personal connection, then they will be making the most valuable investment – which is themselves. Truly responsible leaders perpetuate the virtuous cycle in which all those who receive also give back. Where? Wherever their heart is.

What is the essential leadership lesson from Mexico?

Mina Lópezlugo: Incredible solidarity. We are extraordinary hosts, because sharing everything is in our DNA. A clear example is the earthquakes of September 19. It still moves me to tears to hear the stories of collaboration and absolute dedication displayed at such sensitive times.

What is your personal take on Mexican culture?   

Mina Lópezlugo: The more I travel around the world, the more I value Mexican culture. It is nothing but magical thanks to its traditions and its vast scientific, artistic, and culinary art that can be found in several top ranked restaurants that stand out as the best in the world. Anyone who experiences the true Mexican culture is tremendously lucky.

Promenade in Tijuana, Mexico. Marc Beckmann
Mariachi in Tijuana, Mexico. Marc Beckmann

What is the worst cliché? And why does it survive?

Mina Lópezlugo: One of the biggest clichés is that Mexico is a violent, underdeveloped country of lazy people. We can’t say that there is no violence in Mexico, because there is in some regions. And yet Mexico receives over 30 million tourists annually. Mexico has also been listed as one of the five countries where people work the most hours a day. Moreover, about 35,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are created in Mexico every month, and just over 6% of young people between the age of 18 and 24 own a business.

What is your favorite Mexican dish that participants of the World Responsible Leaders Forum can already look forward to?

Mina Lópezlugo: One of my favorite cuisines is precisely that of the southeastern part of the country, and my favorite dish is called recado negro, which you will have no problem finding in Mérida because it’s from this region. I don’t eat much spicy food, and still this is a salsa made with a great variety of dried chilli peppers that provide the dish with an amazing flavor and a color that is almost completely black. It is served with shredded turkey meat and minced hard-boiled eggs. My other favorite is from my own region, and it’s called barbacoa de hoyo. To make it, lamb meat is cooked for hours with maguey-plant spines in a hole dug in the ground. This process softens the meat and produces the most delicious broth in the world.

A penguin walks through that door wearing a sombrero. What does it say and why is it there?

Mina Lópezlugo: Penguins always wear a tailcoat, so it surely is wearing a most elegant jipijapa palm-leaf hat from Becal, a town located in the state of Campeche, next to Yucatán (the hats are made in caves because these places enhance moisture; a good hat may cost up to 150 or 200 euros). The penguin tells us that it’s leaving for Mérida and that it will be waiting for us in December.

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