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Empowering Small Business Owners: Strengthening Local Economies in Mexico

Raul and Reina

From evening until midnight, the smell of warm empanadas and fresh cilantro emanates from the home of Raul and Reina Lopez — a house that also holds one of the best restaurants in La Concordia, Mexico.

Cilantro and onion for empanadas

Water Mission recently implemented a safe water and sanitation project that services La Concordia’s 1,800 residents, and the community is overjoyed. Throughout the project, our team watched recipients’ physical, spiritual, relational, and financial health strengthen, illustrating the holistic transformation that is the end goal of every Water Mission project.

We were especially inspired by Raul and Reina, who told us about the life-changing impact of the water project on their lives and their family’s business — the local favorite eatery run from their home. Now that they have safe water, the restaurant is more successful than ever.

Raul and Reina

“It is faster, easier, and cheaper to use safe water to make our food now. We no longer have to boil the water,” Raul shared, explaining that their customers no longer contract waterborne illnesses from food prepared with contaminated water. “They come more and more because we are offering safe water and food.”

Food prep!

By eliminating the need to purchase costly fuel and disinfectant to boil and treat unsafe water, the water project has enabled the Lopez family to keep more of their income. And with more customers than ever, the business is thriving — they now serve up to 60 people every night!

“This is a family business,” Raul explained. “I help my wife cut vegetables, and she is the one who cooks.” Their sons — Erick, age 20, and Raul Jr., age 14 — also play an important role in the restaurant, helping with food preparation and household deliveries.

Raul and his sons carry safe water to the restaurant.
Raul and his sons carry safe water to the restaurant

“We have fun together as we cook,” Raul added. “We laugh; it’s a time we enjoy.”

What is the restaurant most famous for? “Everything,” Raul told us, laughing. “First of all, my wife does a great job of cooking. Other nearby restaurants have started, but they couldn’t beat the flavor my wife puts on the food.”

Reina preparing the restaurant's food

It’s a local hot spot: a place to gather, meet friends, and eat the best empanadas in town. They’ve also introduced a newly improved menu item — aguas naturales, a drink now prepared using safe water and fresh fruit. It’s quickly become a community favorite.

As the eatery steadily draws in more customers, opportunities continue to emerge for the Lopez family. With their additional restaurant profits and Raul’s income as a builder, Raul and Reina can now save enough to afford their sons’ school expenses.

The Lopez family
The Lopez family: Raul, Reina, Erick, Raul Jr., and Ana (Raul and Reina’s niece)

Their success is reflected in the communities we serve around the world. We often find that the accomplishment of one small business stimulates the village’s economy as a whole, creating an environment in which other local enterprises can flourish.

Another local enterprise: Maritza Gomez Mendez, 46, is the maker of a corn drink called atole. She uses her income to pay for food and education for her children. "I want my children to triumph," she shared. She has about 120 regular customers!
Another local enterprise: Maritza Gomez Mendez, 46, is the maker of a corn drink called atole, the preferred drink of her more than 120 loyal customers. She uses the income she earns to pay for food and education for her children. “I want my children to triumph,” she shared.

“Now that we have the presence of Water Mission here, we are better than before,” Raul said, thanking our Mexico staff.

Water Mission’s eight staff members in Mexico frequently tell us how much they love their work — partnering with incredible, resilient communities; implementing life-saving solutions; and sharing the love of God with people as they meet their physical needs. And the team’s most powerful motivator? Seeing the Lord at work in La Concordia and so many other communities that can now thrive more than ever before, thanks to the presence of safe water.

Raul and his son with Water Mission Mexico staff

LEARN MORE about our financial sustainability work and research.