Completed Research

Strengthening small family businesses in Tequila, Mexico

University of Toronto

Family businesses make up over 60 per cent of enterprises in Mexico. In the region of Tequila, artisanal family businesses play a crucial role in preserving the traditional customs and heritage of the region. The presence of the Tequila industry provides both socio-economic and cultural opportunities and barriers for artisanal businesses. In collaboration with students from ITESO, Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara, this case study report examines how artisanal family businesses in Tequila achieve multifaceted business sustainability, including financial security, positive social impact and the preservation of traditional practices over time. The case study report will be used by artisanal businesses in the community to better operationalize their own family business models as well as improve collaboration and learning across the community. 

Hard to Reach

Small local artisanal family businesses in Tequila, Mexico.

Key Takeaways

The tequila industry can serve as both an enabler and a barrier to family microbusinesses in the region, depending on how aligned the businesses are with its goals and with the burgeoning tequila tourism in the region. Barriers facing family microbusinesses in Tequila include: finances, education, business skills, separation of family/business, housework, and transportation. Here is what would address these barriers:

  1. Helping businesses define their own vision and values
  2. Investing in family well-being along with business success allows companies to better utilize the unique resources and capabilities they possess as a family
  3. The support of large external organizations in both the public and private sphere should balance individual businesses’ values and vision
  4. Mapping and sharing resources so that businesses can better understand what opportunities exist to help add their needs


This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. As researchers we acknowledge our position as settlers on the land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit. Today, this land is still home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.

This research was made possible by Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), Universidad Jesuita de Guadalajara, and through the Reach Alliance. We express our gratitude and appreciation to ITESO Professional Application Project (PAP) students for their support of our research efforts: Elena Davalos, Sarahí Muro Puente, Alejandra Zúñiga Rivera, and Sofía Nicole Castro Díaz de Sandi. We are grateful to those we met and interviewed for sharing their insights with us. We
also thank the following organizations: Llamas Honey, Memorias de Nuestras Raíces, Delicias del Agave, Beckmann Foundation, and Tec de Monterrey. We are also grateful to ITESO professors: Andrea Monica Fellner Grassmann, Nora María Samayoa Aguilar, Silvia Rebeca Acevez Muñoz, and Gregorio Leal Martinez for their guidance and support. This research was vetted by and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto. The research was conducted virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.