My Experience as a Foreign Entrepreneur in Mexico
I launched a french bakery in Hermosillo, Mexico, which opened its doors in May 2017. It all started back in University at the Universidad del Valle de México (UVM), as being part of the exchange program from my business school. I came up with the idea by analyzing the consumer habits and identifying that the culture in the northern Mexico has a strong focus in gastronomy, but doesn't pay much attention to the sweet part of it.
Being honest, creating a business as a french foreign in Mexico, its hard. There is a significant lack of clarity in many stages of the process. Almost everything from, migration, banks, or any other type of contract; It all gets complicated because there isn't enough and clear information. For example, the instructions given for migration were different between the Consulate, the National Migration Institute and the legal advisers. All of this made choosing the right path extremely complicated. In France, we also have a lot of paperwork to do, which causes the start-up process to slow down, but its clearer and more logical. Fortunately, I found people throughout every stage that helped and dedicated their time to clarify the issues.
Nevertheless, by and large, mexican and french administrative framework are very similar. They are both exceeding in long-waiting formalities, and they both carry a strict bureaucracy. As for fiscal affairs, taxes and VAT management are also quite similar. Although the time for VAT refunds is less precise. In France, a newly created company will have its investment VAT refund no longer than 1 month after. In my personal case, for several transactions I had to wait over 5 months, which affected my competitivity and investment plans.
Furthermore, due to mexican law limitations to foreign investment, it was complicated to get the business name authorization and to determine who the shareholders would be. Since 2 out of 3 partners were french and the third one, mexican. The constraints led us to create a business structure that would hire ourselves in order to legally obtain the working visa. At the end, we had to meet with a number of requirements and procedures that I would initially imagine plain and simple. For this reason I had the impression of wasting a lot of time and energy in procedures that were perhaps inefficient.
To let aside the administrative matters, there are several amendments that have been implemented in Mexico City and that will soon be reaching the rest of the country, making start-ups and the whole entrepreneurship deal a lot more simple for both foreigners and mexicans.
As for the business plan, it required a great deal of time. It was quite hard since there were a lot of things to take into consideration such as the market, the consumer habits, competition, access to inputs, etc.
I first thought about this project after living for a year and a half in Hermosillo, around the last months of university. Between the first draft and the final project, there were a lot of changes. Listening to the people and analyzing the consumption habits in Hermosillo was a key role to developing a feasible and potentially likeable product. My goal was to create something different regarding flavors and concept, but at the same time to bring something that anyone could incorporate into their daily cravings.
To conclude I'd say that the hardest part of the process was finding the right inputs. A lot of the ingredients here in Mexico are different to the french, this represented an obstacle for our authenticity goal. Fortunately there are a number of importing companies in Mexico City and Monterrey which has made it possible to import 60 % of my inputs.
Starting a business in Mexico has been a thrilling adventure. And even if I agreed to the fact that there are many obstacles in the process. It's been all worth it, especially in a country with such human and cultural richness