A group of opportunistic international students at Southern Methodist University is making efforts to use their shared cultural identity to achieve entrepreneurial success.
The Association of Mexican Entrepreneurs, or as they call it, the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos, started in 1996 has since expanded to reach 16 cities in the U.S. and Mexico. The SMU chapter received official charter just this year. It started with 10 members and is now comprised of more than 50 international business students.
The SMU chapter was founded with the intention of uniting the Mexican students on campus in their shared passion for entrepreneurship. The group is able to connect with many influential leaders in both the latino and American communities and share their culture with other students at SMU by hosting speakers and through discussion panels on campus.
“These speakers do not only go to SMU for a brief talk, they go to truly connect with students on an intimate level and to share with them the challenges and rewards of an entrepreneurial path,” said Rodrigo Ricaud, president of the AEM SMU chapter.
Over the past academic year, AEM invited some of the most influential latino leaders in Dallas to speak at SMU including Alfredo Duarte, CEO of Taxco Produce; Jaime Palmer, managing director at View Capital Advisors LLC; and David Benitez, CEO of Intelligent Mexican Marketing, according to Ricaud.
Their most recent event brought them a lot of local and international attention, as they invited the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, to speak on campus on March 30.
The event, held at Crum Auditorium on the SMU campus, was packed with locals and even international entrepreneurs who came to hear Calderón speak.
“[The] lecture left many in the audience hoping to hear more and excited to be part of the future movement of young entrepreneurial leaders in the U.S. and Mexico,” said Ricaud.
Ricaud’s next steps for the chapter are twofold. First, he hopes to begin a mentorship program with local leaders in the Latin-American community.
“After speaking with many business leaders from the Dallas area, I recognized that many are not only interested in mentoring students but some are also interested in AEM at SMU because they know that, following graduation, they will have a great place to look for talented, bilingual, and motivated young men and women when hiring new employees,” said Ricaud.
His other hope for the organization is to continue establishing strong friendships amongst the members of the chapter that will last a lifetime.
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