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A native of the state of Aguascalientes, Martinez is a graduate of the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City and holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Latin American Politics from the University of Oxford.
Martinez has served as president of the Los Angeles AEM chapter and is the founder and CEO of Martinez Brands, Inc., a corporation that has imported and distributed beverages and spirits throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and other countries since 1997. He also co-founded Green Energy Strategies, which is dedicated to solar energy development projects in both the United States and Mexico.
AEM was founded in San Antonio in 1996 by a group of Mexican entrepreneurs and now has chapters in 26 different cities throughout the United States and Mexico. Since its inception, AEM’s mission has been to become the leading organization for Mexican entrepreneurs in the United States.
“We want to represent and defend the position and interests of Mexican entrepreneurs here in the United States against local authorities, the bilateral agenda between the United States and Mexico, and society in general,” Martinez said.
AEM aims to influence the bilateral business agenda between the United States and Mexico, and to identify entrepreneurs in its different chapter cities so that they can network and create successful business relationships. Its more than 3,500 members have created committees and events that promote various business, cultural, and political interests shared by Mexico and the United States.
The organization not only serves as a guide to those Mexican entrepreneurs who come to the United States for business, but it also aids those American entrepreneurs who want to go to Mexico and conduct business there.
“We want to consolidate what has already been done so far and create even more strategic alliances with the most important entrepreneurial organisms in this country. We want to go outside of our own community and create that link, that bridge to the U.S. American entrepreneurial business community,” Martinez said.
AEM’s San Antonio chapter is known for hosting luncheons in the community with prominent political, economic and cultural speakers, which have helped attract new businesses and international entrepreneurs to the organization.
As the new chairman, Martinez plans on developing an investment fund to help AEM’s members who wish to launch or expand a business in the United States or Mexico. According to Dr. Martinez, most entrepreneurs want the same things: networking opportunities, access to information, technology, knowledge of the market, government agreements, and expertise in marketing, sales, the economy, and politics.
More than anything, he thinks there is a need for more access to capital and new markets, something that he calls “the oxygen to a successful business.”
“Unfortunately, in Mexico we don’t have many business role models because everyone thinks they did business with the government or that they were provided with the necessary contacts to thrive,” he said. “We don’t believe much in the market or the entrepreneurs that succeeded on their own without influence or privilege.”
Even one of Mexico’s most famous and successful businessmen, Carlos Slim, has a slightly marred success narrative, with some people claiming he achieved success with his Telmex emporium because he had a close relationship with former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who held power from 1988 to 1994.
Martinez explained that there are several Mexican entrepreneurs in the U.S. that have succeeded without the help of the government, who were able to conduct their business due to their talent and hard work, not because they were friends with the president or a governor.
“The point is we have few role models where people can say, ‘He did this all through talent and hard work.’ What we are trying to do with AEM is to tell the success stories of those entrepreneurs here in the United States, and believe me, there are many,” Martinez said.
“There are businessmen and women here that average $250 or $500 million dollars in sales a year and they are not doing this through government connections; many of these people did it alone starting from zero” he added. “These entrepreneurs and business people deserve to be recognized publicly for what they have done.”
Another of Martinez’s plans is to implement a national internship program just like the one he helped spearhead in Los Angeles last year. A special database of 56 Mexican students who attended USC and UCLA was created, and they matched up the students with several businesses that were seeking interns. Martinez plans to expand this initiative all across the U.S., wherever AEM has a working chapter.
“Our contribution to U.S. society is huge, just look at our influence in gastronomy, the arts, and culture. The contribution of the Mexican community isn’t recognized enough in this society,” he said.
The impact of the Mexican community is clear if we look at San Antonio alone. It remains a bridge city, with deep cultural, political, and historical roots tying back to Mexico. Billions of dollars in exports leave Texas for Mexico every year, and new connecting flights to major Mexican cities have grown exponentially.
The new chairman also highlighted AEM’s commitment to focus on growing sectors like energy, and mentioned AEM’s Bi-National Energy Committee, where officials are able to oversee production development while coordinating new possible business relationships between Mexico and the United States.
Due to Mexico’s recent changes in the energy sector in 2013, where the government opened the doors to foreign investment and implemented new structural changes, there will be ample investment opportunities in renewable energy, solar energy, wind power, and natural gas.
“We want to amplify our Bi-National Energy Committee to include renewable energy, to learn more about new technologies and market tendencies, and we are exploring that with a seminar and other initiatives organized by the committee,” Martinez said.
According to Martinez, right now is a pivotal moment for AEM to spearhead all of these initiatives, especially since recent political rhetoric has vilified the Mexican community.
“Look at everything that Trump has said about us … that we’re thieves, rapists … We want to button up our suits and say ‘Hey wait a minute: do you see thieves or rapists here?’” he said. “What we see here are creators of riches, successful individuals, and hardworking people who are generating employment opportunities for others.”
Top image: The AEM Executive Committee and Binational Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of AEM.