Student Spotlight

Maria Luisa Luque MPA'12

Posted Dec 21 2023

NUUP creates market-based solutions for smallholder farmers by facilitating information flows, and promoting transparency in agricultural value chains while enabling sector-wide collaboration.

Company: NUUP

Location: Mexico

Why We Love NUUP

NUUP acts an intermediary between farmers and buyers. It is essentially an information platform. It gathers very specific needs from buyers, while assessing their buying behavior including payment methods and patterns. To achieve this, NUUP works with NGOs in the field that provide different services or access to products for the development of rural enterprises. Today, NUUP works with 10,000 farmers and 10 large buyers. Buyers are benefitting from the access to tailored products and services. Farmers on the other hand, are able to better tailor their products and services and cater to a larger spectrum of needs for their buyers.

Maria’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Maria did not imagine she would be an entrepreneur while at SIPA. That said, SIPA provided her a very broad range of skills that she is utilizing as an entrepreneur and classes such as the Theory of Human Rights she feels prepared her well for her current role.

Before starting her venture, Maria worked with several actors in the agricultural value chain at Ashoka. It became apparent to her that no entities were working to tackle the paucity of data that reflects the needs of agricultural buyers and promotes collaboration between farmers and buyers. The moment she realized that there was a need, she began her entrepreneurial journey.

Running a High Impact Business

Maria measures impact by looking at her network of agricultural NGOs and assessing how they adapt their work based on the data generated by NUUP. Maria believes that that NUUP is driving impact if NGOs are incorporating the data that NUUP provides into their operations. NUUP is facilitating agricultural purchases worth PHP 50 million ($1 million) and hopes to increase this by 10X in the next five years.

According to Maria, building a team is perhaps the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs need to constantly recognize and promote talent. However, Maria acknowledges that it is all worth it when she gathers with her team every six months to recognize what they have achieved.

Advice to Aspiring Entrepreneurs

"I have three pieces of advice: First, after thoroughly researching your idea, you should quickly spring into action. Start small, but start quickly. The quicker you fail, the quicker you’ll be able to get up. Second, don’t do it on your own and work with people smarter than you. Don’t be afraid of that. It’s way more fun. And finally, use your time at SIPA to do an internship in the field you’d like to take up entrepreneurship in."

Favorite SIPA memory

 "LASA Parties!"

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