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The Dignity of Tortilla Making

Isabel Miller is currently raising support to join our Marketplace Ministries team in Mexico City, a team that teaches business owners to live out their faith in the workplace with the goal of making disciples and alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship. Here she shares the story of one graduate of the program who is making a lasting difference in the communities he serves.

Pictured above are Jorge and his wife Johana with seven Georgia Tech Christian Campus Fellowship students and I. Twice now, once last May and once this past October, I’ve gotten to spend time with Jorge, learning about his business, hearing his testimony, and being amazed by his passion for the Kingdom of God.

When Jorge started his business, his dream was at once simple and revolutionary, in the way many revolutionary ideas are. Jorge’s dream was to dignify the tortillería.


Some Context

Tortillerías, small and ubiquitous storefronts scattered across Mexico City in the thousands, are the primary producers of Mexican cuisine’s most iconic staple: the tortilla. Just one of Jorge’s tortillerías, one among the thousands, produces 240 kilos of tortillas a day.

Unfortunately, despite the city’s reliance on these shops and the cultural and economic significance of their product, the tortillería is generally considered a ‘lowly’ profession. After years of working in the operational sector of a large chain of tortilla-making shops, Jorge had seen enough. He felt called to take a leap of faith and start his own business, one he hoped could turn the current standards on their head. What is the standard and how is Jorge defying it?


Product and Operations

An important economic factor in the tortilla industry is the government-set price ceiling on a kilo of tortillas. When I visited, the cap was set at 22 pesos; $1.34 for approximately 40 tortillas. How do they make a profit with such tight margins?

Unfortunately, the current standard is to cut the quality of the product. To stretch the margins, most tortillerías now use a corn dough mixed with inferior ingredients, and a cheaper method of preparation that further strips away remaining nutrients. The result is a whiter, blander corn tortilla, stripped of everything that makes a freshly prepared Mexican tortilla special.

Jorge’s way? Continue to produce high-quality, traditional tortillas– despite the profit it costs him– and sell other high-quality products that yield higher margins! His wife has developed a range of delicious, home-made foods ranging from rices and pastas to plantains and arepas. It may seem like a simple solution, but it is NOT the standard. Why? Because at its foundation, it’s a solution derived from a dignity and respect for their business, their product, and their customers. Since most tortillerías aren’t managed from that place anymore, solutions like this are rarely implemented.


Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, Jorge explained to us how the lack of dignity and respect in operational matters is mirrored in the treatment of employees in most tortillerías. Workers are overworked and underpaid, working in dirty facilities with poor health standards.

In this aspect even more, Jorge’s heart for using his business as a witness of his faith is clearly seen. His stores are vibrant, bright, and clean. He’s put systems in place for the training and promotion of his employees- current line managers are being trained and empowered to become future store managers of new openings.

And in everything they do, Jorge and Johana give the glory to God.

Every Sunday, most of their employees attend church with them, and incredibly, TEN people have come to faith through their business, both employees and relatives of employees!


Christ in the Marketplace

It is an honor for CMF’s Marketplace Ministries team to get to walk alongside people like Jorge and Johana. Jorge, like most entrepreneurs who’ve connected with Marketplace Ministries, already had all the most important things. He had industry knowledge, the drive and perseverance to start a business, and even more incredibly, already had a Christ-centered vision for how his business was going to impact the people around him.

As devout Christians, Jorge and Johana have a deep desire to serve the Lord, and even went to seminary with the intention of becoming pastors. When taking our team’s training, all entrepreneurs are encouraged to use their business to help others, glorify God, and reach people for the Gospel. In Jorge’s case, all he needed was practical training in areas like finance, accounting, payroll management, and strategy to give his business a solid foundation for success.

Our mission with people like Jorge is simply to equip them with what they need and unleash them on the world! To do amazing things we never could, and to reach people we never would.



entrepreneur, marketplace ministry, Mexico City

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