Téllez and his blue corn products. Téllez and his blue corn products.

Puebla entrepreneur and Mexican dream

The American one didn't work out so he came back to manufacture corn chips

A young entrepreneur has found the Mexican dream after homesickness forced him to abandon seeking the American version and return home from the United States.

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Today, Leobardo Téllez Pérez is selling 20,000 bags of corn chips a month in Puebla and Mexico City.

As a student at the Technological University of Huejotzingo he had planned a rabbit project but that didn’t work for lack of financing. Facing a dearth of employment opportunities after graduating, he decided to emigrate to the United States.

“I left because I had a family, and they’re my responsibility,” he told the newspaper Excélsior.

Téllez, now 28, washed dishes and built artificial reefs in Philadelphia to support his siblings from afar, but his experience was far from fulfilling.

“I missed the community, working in the fields, the family. You’re alone most of the time [in the United States].”

After two years and four months, Téllez decided it was time to go back home to the Puebla town of San Mateo Ozolco, situated on the slopes of the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes.

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There, for generations, his family has been dedicated to farming corn, particularly the “blue” variety, also known as Hopi maize.

“I returned because I love the fields, but it’s hard to make a living out of it,” he recalled.

But along with several partners Téllez figured out a way to add value to their community’s staple crop: they made oven-baked tostadas and totopos, or corn chips.

In addition to its sharply different color, blue corn has several nutritional advantages over other varieties. It contains 20% more protein, has a lower glycemic index and is a more complete protein source, with a sweeter and nuttier taste.

“We Náhuatl-speakers have many traditions, and harvesting blue corn is one of them,” said Téllez, who with his product wants to promote those traditions, along with his community’s farm work.

Five years after returning from the U.S., Téllez’s Mazolco brand employs 10 people and produces 20,000 bags of blue corn tostadas and totopos per month. His product is currently distributed in Mexico City and the Puebla town of Cholula but he has his sights set on New York City.

“We’ve sent samples to New York but there are still some requirements we must meet. The situation’s complicated because we need money, which we don’t have right now,” he said.

Téllez’ project, which promotes self-employment among local farming families, has been recognized by the University of the Valley of Mexico (UVM) with a social development award.

“I have relatives, friends, neighbors living in the United States, and we don’t know what’s going to happen to them. I know they are good at what they do, they’re restaurateurs, chefs, but it is hard for them to find employment here in Mexico,” said Téllez.

Perhaps, though, his business will help.

“If they make them return we’ll find a way to make them part of the community through Mazolco,” he declared.

Philadelphia was a popular destination 10 years ago for many residents of Téllez’ community of San Mateo Ozolco, according to Wikipedia. The neighborhood where many settled became known as Puebladelfia.

Source: Excélsior (sp)

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  • cruz_ctrl

    I want some!

  • Jumex

    He’s probably just laundering drug money.

    • AM

      You make yourself known, and that’s boring – another cipher more and the world keeps turning 🙂

  • Happygirl

    Anyone who gardens can relate to love he feels for the land…the feel and smell of soil…the wonder one feels as you plant the small hard seeds that grow into bushy plants. We battle disease and pests, we water and fertilize in hopes of a bountiful harvest . The circle of life. The world needs more dedicated farmers. Good for him…it’s good for his community…it’s good for the land he loves. Best wishes.

  • miabeach

    This is a wonderful story and I hope to read millions more like it. I would like to say, he says that in the United States “you are alone most of the time.” That is not only true but it’s why Americans hate Latinos. They don’t assimilate, they don’t accept our culture or ways, they’re just a bunch of pains in the ass. Good luck though, I hope this works out.

  • Louis Barbosa

    He has heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon and hopefully he will paint with all the colors of the wind. Excerpts from the Disney film Pocahontas. We need these entrepreneurs to continue to lead Mexico to a better future.

  • cooncats

    Hey, how about distributing this around Guadalajara? Sell in Mexico first. I want some too!

  • Terri Lane

    Where can I sign up to invest in his dream? Love this kid.

  • He “decided to emigrate to the United States”? Read: He sneaked into the U.S.

    But he’s back now where he belongs, and with effort appears to be doing reasonably well, and will do better in the future because he’s a smart guy.

    He has “relatives, friends, neighbors” living above the border. You can count on their being there illegally too. And people wonder why Trump got elected.

    • Steve Galat

      Decades of complicity between successive US and Mexican governments (“nod and wink”) encouraged illegal Mexican/Central American northward emigration to the benefit of US farmers, manufacturers and small home-town shops while at the same time attenuating pressure on corrupt Mexican kleptocrats by poor angry ‘ciudadanos’ seeking only to work

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