Making a Difference

Saturday, March 8, 2008

IPODERAC, Atlixco, Mexico

How do you support a home for 72 orphans/street kids in Atlixco, Mexico? Well, if you are IPODERAC (Puebla Institute of Rehabilitation) the answer is obvious. Goats. Or, more precisely goats' milk cheese and goats' milk soap. IPODERAC initially got into goat raising as a training program for its boys. But, it soon became apparent that raising goats, like the rabbits and other ventures that preceded the goats, required more attention, if they were to be profitable, or at least revenue generating. So, with the help of a retired Nestle executive a cheese production "factory" was established. The quality was great, but the sales and marketing efforts needed assistance. Enter teams from the Haas IBD program, financially supported by my good friend Surry Roberts. (Surry and I go way back and have travelled a bit of the world together. But, that's another story. Surry has also sent IBD teams to the Czech Republic and Zimbabwe, but these too are other stories. Surry trekked across the Australian outback on a camel, but that's his story.)

For about 5 years, each May, a team of IBD consultants worked on some aspect or other of the organization's strategy, operations or marketing. One team even uncovered efforts to defraud the organization, by a customer, and eventually managed to recover a significant amount of the fraudulently transferred funds. See the story of one team's project in journal format.(

A Harvard case, somewhat dated now, has also been written about IPODERAC. The people behind IPODERAC, including the former Managing Director, Agustin Landa, are making a huge difference in the lives of these abandoned or orphaned kids.