How eight Mexican startups are helping with Earthquake relief efforts

Thirty-two years ago, Mexico City was brought to the ground by a devastating magnitude 8.0 earthquake. Hundreds of lives were lost and half the city was reduced to ashes. For those who survived, it remains a painful scar, impossible to forget and hard to move past. Until a few months ago, those who weren’t there when it happened only knew it as as a horror story retold every year on its anniversary.

Last month, on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 quake, the city once again found itself in the midst of a crisis, in the wake of a magnitude 8.0 earthquake that shut the city down for days.

Despite the shock and fear, the community came together to help however it could. Civilians took over collapsed building sites, moving the rubble from hand to hand. Those who couldn’t lift gave out food, medicine, and water to the volunteers. Countless businesses opened their doors offering free WiFi, phone calls, anything at all that proved helpful.

At Village Capital, we were especially proud to see that many of the Mexico-based entrepreneurs we have supported also sprung to action. We believe that entrepreneurs can solve society’s biggest problems, and the past month has validated that belief time and time again.

Here are some founders who found ways to help by doing what they do best: innovating to meet unmet needs:

  1. Credilikeme, an online service that provides low-interest-rate loans, offers a Loan Deferral option for around 12.5% of the loan’s value. For those affected by the earthquakes, they are now offering Loan Deferral at no cost, giving clients one month grace period with no interest due for the period, while they recover.
  2. ePesos is an electronic payment system that allows user to make money transfers to any establishment through Facebook, email or cellphone. As a relief effort, they enabled users to send funds to the Red Cross, via an account at a national bank that matched all funds.
  3. Billpocket is an app and card reader that enables business owners to accept debit and credit cards. They’ve put in place two relief efforts: They will not charge commissions to businesses located in the affected areas, and they have started affiliating with construction businesses in Oaxaca and Chiapas, two of the most affected states, in order to better channel government relief funds to victims.
  4. Volabit provides digital contracts and a Bitcoin wallet in Mexico. They donated Bitcoins and opened a platform encouraging their clients to donate Bitcoins, as well. Half of their proceeds went to the Rescue Brigade Topos Tlaltelolco A. C., and the other half is being delivered directly as provisions to the areas that suffered the most.
  5. FINV is offering loans to business owners through factoring without charging interest or commission, funded by investors who provide capital and opt to “donate” their interest fees.
  6. InstaFit is a health and fitness app; after the earthquakes, they released a 10-minute meditation session, in collaboration with Coral de la Vega, focused on centering yourself in the present, digesting what is happening and accepting any existing feelings in order to overcome them.
  7. Salud Cercana helps businesses provide health services for their employees, increasing productivity and cutting down insurance expenses. They offered psychological help groups via their app during two days after the second earthquake. They then continued treating employees for anxiety. Also, six members of their team formed a brigade and travelled to affected areas to help.
  8. Sonrident delivers affordable dental services, and they used all their clinics as collection centers for provisions that would later be handed out directly to the most affected.

We are grateful to all these founders and the many others who took the time to think critically about their communities’ needs and take action to help.

As time passes, remember that there are still many in need of our support in the recovery process. Thousands of people are mourning their losses. With the first response rescue efforts behind us and our regular routines getting back to normal, it’s easy to forget that many were left in need of homes, jobs, and support. Rebuilding the city will take a collective effort and we welcome you to share your comments about ways you and other entrepreneurs are solving the most important problems in society.

Dani Guerrero works out of Village Capital’s Latin America office in Mexico City. Read more from Village Capital at our Medium page.