Ms. Alejandra Lizarazu Morales helped found Tutorez, an online web portal that connects teachers with students. Since then, Tutorez has accumulated a database of 200 professionals, and expanded its course offerings beyond traditional academic subjects to things like music, painting, and yoga. Today, as Tutorez's Chief Operations Officer, Ms. Lizarazu is in charge of the day-to-day management of the database, marketing, and customer service. In October 2019, Ms. Lizarazu had the opportunity to travel to the U.S. and participate in the WeAmericas Program for Women Entrepreneurs, arranged by The Mississippi Consortium for International Development.
During her time in the U.S., Ms. Lizarazu examined the role of government, the private sector, business and women’s networks, and non-governmental organizations in promoting the development of women-owned businesses and explored the role of women-owned businesses in driving economic development, democratization, and stabilization around the world. Her group met with a variety of professional resources including the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the Utah State Capitol Building, the Utah Microloan Fund, Cotopaxi, Deseret Industries, and Stone Ground Bakery.
Ms. Lizarazu’s group had the opportunity to meet with many local businesses within the Salt Lake City area including Deseret Industries at Welfare Square. Participants took a tour of Welfare Square and participated in volunteer activities, including sorting donations and stocking shelves.
Another memorable moment from Ms. Lizarazu’s trip was her group’s visit to Stone Ground Bakery, recognized as Utah’s premier bakery. Ms. Lizarazu’s group had the opportunity to tour the facility and learn about Stone Ground Bakery from its owner, Ms. Tammy Hines, as she discussed her experiences as a small business owner. Participants even had the chance to sample some of the bakery’s selection!
Since her visit to Utah, Ms. Lizarazu reports having a lifted spirit for her work, sharing her Utah experience with others, sharing her thoughts at public gatherings, and volunteering more frequently. Overall, the skills she learned in Utah empowered Ms. Lizarazu to engage with her cause. She shares, “Utah helped me to change my perception of monetizing and have a cause. My startup is in education and it was created with the intention of helping students improve their academic performance. However, in my country, anything related to helping and education is linked to the mindset that it should be organized by a NGO. However, in Utah I could see that I can have successful ventures with high values and with a positive impact on the community without ceasing to be a business. There is nothing wrong with being a business with purpose and being proud of it.”
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Lizarazu has faced many challenges that limited her ability to pursue previous plans. As an entrepreneur, economic instability created a difficult business environment, with Ms. Lizarazu reporting that sales have decreased since the onset of the pandemic. Fortunately, the skills Ms. Lizararu developed in Utah better prepared her for the consequences of the pandemic. One of the most useful skills she learned was adaptation. She writes, “The first thing I had to do in Salt Lake City was to adapt to its harsh climate. The way of studying today is different and I am adapting to what the client needs and the new system allows me to do so.” Businesses -- large and small -- have suffered from the unforeseen closures and economic downfall resulting from COVID-19. Fortunately, by practicing citizen diplomacy in our own communities, like shopping at small and local businesses, we can continue to help empower those like Ms. Lizarazu who work tirelessly to provide for their communities.