April 7, 2007
While in Mexico, one of the things I was very interested in was the opportunities for bringing work to Mexico. There are a lot of companies who are moving certain business functions to India. Mexico would have a lot of advantages because it is closer to the US and has the strong advantage of being in the same timezone.
I talked with several people about the pay rates in Mexico and it sounded like someone with a law degree or accounting degree would be very happy to get a salary of $5,000 per year. In fact it sounded like many younger accountants and lawyers were having a very difficult time making even half of that in Durango.
I didn’t get the chance to really explore the educational system in Durango, Mexico. Superficially, it appears that most of the degrees from universities are similar in scope to a degree from a Junior College in the US, but it may vary depending on where you go. Law and accounting seemed to be very popular fields of study. In Mexico there are fewer regulations, so it is significantly easier to become a lawyer. In fact I think all you really need to do is say that you are a lawyer.
When we decided to come back to the US, we needed to get our stuff back from Durango. Based on the idea that most people were struggling to make less than $500 per month, we asked our friends if they knew of anyone who would be interested in driving our stuff up to the border at Laredo for $300 US. Our friends couldn’t find anyone who was trust worthy, had a vehicle and would be willing to do it. (We ended up getting our stuff when the pastor of the church had to come back to the border to renew his vehicle permit.)
The difficulty might have been more related to the lack of vehicles, but I was still surprised. While we were in Durango, it seemed like there were a lot of people looking for work.
A few months later, we were talking with our friends who were setting up a tamale stand. They had a recipe, some people to cook and a cart, but couldn’t find anyone willing to do the actual selling. They ran it for a few weeks themselves and it made very good money, but no one was willing to work on a commission basis.
This also seemed strange because a job on commission seems like a better option than no job at all–especially one where someone was already running it and had proved it could make a lot of money. Our friends tried to find people by setting up base salary plus commission, but still couldn’t find anyone willing to work.
During one of Mexico’s revolutions, there seems to have been a backlash against business owners. I think this was because there was practically no middle class. Most of the businesses were owned by the government or the very rich. Because of this, there are many laws designed to be very much in favor of the employees that make things difficult for the employer. It can be difficult to fire someone because you are required to pay them a substantial (compared with their salary) amount of money as severance.
By contrast, the American War for Independence was pushed primarily by business men and the middle class. Much of the difficulties with England impacted middle class business men much more than the lone farmer. As a result, US law seems to be setup to encourage business growth more than the laws in Mexico.
I still think there are some great opportunities for hiring people in Mexico. India and the Philippines have companies where people will work as your full time personal assistant for $500 to $2,000 per month. Mexico would be the ideal place to hire people for this type of work because of their location geographically. However, finding the employees would probably be very difficult. It might be a little easier around Mexico City or other larger populations centers.
If Mexico would really make a push to teach students English, give them a basic technology education and establish the same mindset that seems prevalent in India, I think individuals working from their homes using the internet could bring in billions of dollars into Mexico over the next 10 years.