Alejandro Souza developed a business model to improve the quality of life of Ugandan peanut farmers, constructed a national baseline assessment of multidimensional wellbeing for Bhutanese youth, and now he’s a Pixzero. He created and runs Pixza, a platform for social empowerment that also happens to serve pizza. Strategy World Tour Mexico City participants will meet Alejandro and his team for a meal and a conversation about how he is using his restaurant to improve his community.
Pixza is obviously much more than a charitable pizzeria. How do you describe it?
Pixza is a very unique an innovative social enterprise, based in Mexico City, that offers the world’s first blue-corn pizza made out of 100% Mexican ingredients while simultaneously operating as a social empowerment platform that employs homeless young adults. Pixza’s mission is to achieve the socioeconomically productive reinsertion of homeless young adults by providing a formal employment opportunity at the pizzeria, and by offering an integrated social empowerment program designed to accomplish three objectives: life-skills coaching, independent housing, and continued professional training.
Pixza’s unique business model based on a philosophy of empowerment, and not charity, grants every customer the opportunity to generate social change with every bite of every slice of pizza.
Pixza was founded only one and a half years ago but already you’re expanded to a second location and are shifting to an ecosystem model for social businesses in Mexico. Tell us more about your vision.
Our vision, since the beginning, has been to generate and grow a movement. Our movement is a movement of “integrated prosperity” by which everyone gives and everyone receives while participating in it. In order to achieve this vision, we want to effectively scale and replicate our business model via franchising socially and growing organically. Pixza’s ideal franchisees will be young social entrepreneurs who would use Pixza as an opportunity to not only achieve financial independence but to have a business that is part of a movement that grants meaning, purpose, and generates social impact. Pixza has an ambitious 5-year growth program that envisions having 15 more units open and operating, and launching an institute and one-stop-shop website designed to recruit, train, and employ homeless young adults both within Pixza franchises and within the greater food and beverage industry.
Pixza implements a structured process based heavily on somewhat intangible values like commitment, social connectivity and signification. How do you make these actionable?
At Pixza, our social empowerment program begins with our clients because after every five slices sold at the restaurant, a sixth free slice gets automatically generated and delivered to homeless young adults weekly at a designated shelter. Each beneficiary, upon receiving a slice, automatically enters an empowerment program called “The Route of Change.” As part of this program, each beneficiary can receive up to five free slices, after which they must lead a volunteer initiative designed to improve their immediate community. If this is accomplished, they advance, if not, they are automatically out of the program. Then, each beneficiary can receive five more slices after which they must lead a second volunteer initiative in order to continue advancing. Afterwards, every beneficiary enters a re-humanization and re-dignification process by receiving five benefits: a life-skills training course, a shower, a t-shirt, a medical examination, and a haircut. Finally, all beneficiaries who graduate from the program receive a formal job offer at the pizzeria, life-skills coaching, a scholarship for independent housing, and continued professional training.
Your own globetrotting, social entrepreneurial background is fascinating. Can you share a few highlights that led you to this point?
What led me to travel the world and take a stab at many diverse professional and academic experiences was my desire to live life as profoundly and as intensely as possible. My attitude has always been to seek adventure, risk, and visceral experiences knowing that the path of self-discovery has to be fully lived, not only pondered. This attitude has allowed me to develop various interests in numerous areas simultaneously. I have a thirst for new experiences that manifests itself in travelling, launching social businesses, and trying to create new and dynamic models for social change.
Photo Copyright Pixza 2017