In Mexico, as in countries across Latin America and around the world, many middle- and upper-class households employ live-in maids. Such women work tirelessly in the service of the families that employ them but are often marginalized by an informal economy that provides them little agency in their own professional affairs.
The pioneering NGO Grupo Aliada MX—which White & Case recently represented on a pro bono basis in a MXN 20 million round of capital investment—is working to change that. Aliada is Spanish for ally, and the NGO's philosophy is perhaps best encapsulated by the new terminology it aims to advance: its goal is to transform women into full allies of their employers, joining the two in a relationship of mutual benefit.
The NGO's work centers on a pioneering smartphone platform that allows the women to advertise their services and, in a marked departure from standard practice, actively decide which jobs to take on. This tool aims to bring the Aliadas out of the informal economy by bringing them out of the home of a single, monopolizing employer. In an example of its expansive commitment to its clients, the NGO often provides credit to the women to help them acquire a place of their own.
As detailed in a study by Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, those who signed up with Aliada's platform went from earning less than 250 pesos per day in the informal economy to earning 450 pesos per day after taxes. The case study also emphasizes the transformative effect of the NGO in bringing the Aliadas out of the informal economy: "Aliada required maids to open bank accounts, through which to receive their weekly deposits from Aliada, and helped them understand the importance of paying taxes. This was nontrivial as 83% of aliadas did not have bank accounts prior to joining Aliada."
More than a sense of mission joined Grupo Aliada and White & Case. The CEO of the NGO, Rodolfo Corcuera, was a peer of associate Sofia Duclaud Llantada in law school—where both were taught by Raul. Prior to advising on this landmark round of capital investment, our Mexico City lawyers have advised Grupo Aliada on a range of corporate issues. With the new investment, Grupo Aliada will be in position to bolster its programming.
Players in the capital investment were: PSM, a sustainable social investor, Fiinlab, an innovation laboratory of Gentera the purpose of which is to create new business models for financial inclusion, innovative investors Rodolfo Corcuera, Ana Orvañanos, and John Farrell, as well as private equity funds Dila Capital, Capital Invent, and Variv.
Partner Raul Fernandez Briseno led the work of our legal team. "As significant as this transaction was, a Firm of our size often handles corporate transactions of much greater magnitude," Raul says. "We were able to give this pro bono deal the same attention and resources we might give a billion-dollar transaction. We did so because we share Grupo Aliada's commitment to social change, and to the empowerment of a segment of Mexico's population that has too often been relegated to the shadows."
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