In Mexico, digital ‘angels’ teach women lifelong business skills

September 13, 2021 | By Arsalan Danish


In Nahuatl, the Uto-Aztecan language spoken by more than 1 million people in central Mexico, the word “nohaui” translates to aunt or older woman. For Magda Padilla Medina, who runs a small shop in Tezoyuca, on the outskirts of Mexico City, it has another meaning: angel.

That's what she calls Dorita, her nohaui from Nohauis Soluciones, which helps woman microentrepreneurs in Mexico digitize their businesses, including bringing the safety and ease of electronic payments to cash-reliant communities. Its sales force of nohauis work one-on-one with business owners, offering digital education and onboarding help while establishing long-term relationships to make sure these digital financial tools are not just acquired but used.

“If my nohaui had not taken the technology to me, I would not have known where to get it,” Padilla Medina, 50, says. “That is why she was like an angel fallen from heaven. I was not looking for her but she came and helped me a lot … With technology, I realized it was easier to focus on what people really want. It was just a matter of giving me a little push.”

Nohauis Soluciones is one of the financial tool marketplaces working with the nonprofit Fundación Capital, which brings digital solutions to the unbanked and underbanked in Latin America and other developing markets, opening them up to the opportunities of the digital economy and helping them better withstand the shocks of the pandemic.

As part of its DigitAll program, in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, Fundación Capital is testing different solutions and training models in Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Currently, it is working with about 5,000 microentrepreneurs with plans to expand the program to 50,000 next year. 

Padilla Medina says it’s not just her business that has been transformed. “My nohaui gave me confidence that even though I was the age I am, I can learn, that it’s never too late.”

Hear Padilla Medina talk about the challenges she faced as a woman entrepreneur and how her business has evolved in this video, part of our “Inside the Mind of an Entrepreneur” series.

Arsalan Danish, senior specialist, global communications