Meet the Woman Entrepreneur Investing in Social Impact
Idalia Medina is using the skills she gained from TechnoServe’s business training to transform her enterprise and invest in the long-term success of her employees.
Idalia Medina is a natural leader. When she walks into a room, people seem to gravitate toward her, and her kind but unapologetic demeanor instantly puts people at ease. On this particular morning, she rushes into the office in a flash of yellow, barely pausing a moment to put her belongings down before taking a seat at a large table. “I just finished my English class,” she announces with an excited smile. It’s barely 9 a.m., but she has already had a busy day.
Idalia runs Delicias del Campo, a business based in Managua, Nicaragua, that processes and exports cheese to the United States and El Salvador. The business officially started in 2012, but Idalia had been selling products long before then. She grew up on a small farm in rural Nicaragua, where milk was abundant but roads were in poor condition or nonexistent. As a result, there was no efficient way to transport the milk to factories for processing, and much of it went to waste.
My husband used to be the voice of the business because companies didn’t want to meet with me as a woman. Now, they’ve gotten used to a woman calling the shots.”
– Idalia Medina
When Idalia became an adult and moved closer to the city, she knew she wanted to figure out a way to use her entrepreneurial spirit to develop a business. Noticing that there was a high demand for cheese in El Salvador, she decided to take a chance by starting her own business.
The cheese processing business started out small. At first, there were no formal processes in place, including accounting. There were only a few employees, and most of them were not well-trained. “I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t organized and there was no long-term vision,” Idalia recalls.
In 2019, Idalia joined Impulsa tu Empresa (ITE), a business accelerator that gives entrepreneurs the tools, information, and connections they need to run successful businesses. Through the program, Idalia learned important techniques for business planning, accounting, and budgeting. Within the first four months of being in the program, she implemented eight of these new business practices – a 73% increase over the total number of practices she had been performing earlier. “I’ve learned a lot through the program, but planning and organization have been the most useful,” Idalia says. “It made my plans more assured because I could see what should happen in a successful business.”
Recently, the demand for cheese has grown exponentially. In response, Idalia hired many new employees, and the business has grown from 50 employees to nearly 80 employees in a very short period of time. “Every day I think of new positions I need to create within the business because there are gaps we need to fill,” Idalia explains.
I’ve learned a lot through the program, but planning and organization have been the most useful […] I could see what should happen in a successful business.”
– Idalia Medina
But as a woman in a male-dominated field, running the business has not always been easy for Idalia. “My husband used to be the voice of the business because companies didn’t want to meet with me as a woman,” Idalia recalls. “Now, they’ve gotten used to a woman calling the shots.” Idalia hopes that her success can be motivation for other women who also want to get involved in a more male-dominated field, but aren’t sure how to get started.
Since participating in the ITE program, Idalia’s sales have increased by 17%. With this increase in revenue, she has not only been able to hire many new people, but also invest in the personal growth of her current employees. “Implementing the changes has been a slow process because our personnel didn’t have the education they needed,” Idalia explains. “But they are the people who grew with us, so we are investing in their education and not leaving them behind.” Idalia is currently giving out scholarships to many of the employees so they can study and learn important skills, such as computer literacy. Running a successful business with social impact is not always easy, but for Idalia, the results have been worth the wait.
Learn more about TechnoServe’s entrepreneurship work.