CINIA- A Company Where Disability is a Labor Competence

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Crishelen Kurezyn Díaz

Crishelen Kurezyn Díaz

Luisa Fernanda Carrillo Maza

Luisa Fernanda Carrillo Maza

Brenda González Bureos

Brenda González Bureos




Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla

Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla


George Dionne

George Dionne

Global Goals

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 10. Reduced Inequalities Flourish Prize Honoree - For Business as an Agent of World Benefit - Weatherhead School of Management

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CINIA is a social enterprise dedicated to provided work for people with disabilities who are 18 years old or more and self-sufficient in their mobility. CINIA helps them obtain an income that allows them to be independent or to help their families. CINIA has the firm conviction that as Mr. Fernando Diez (CEO of CINIA) said: "Work is the only way to transform the lives of people and for them to transform their own lives."

CINIA hires people with disabilities - physical, mental, or elderly disabilities - and trains them in a variety of skills. The recruits are trained in role-playing techniques and are provided the support and tools necessary to fulfill their job in the best way possible. CINIA partners with socially responsible companies who wish to integrate people with disabilities into their organizations. The companies hire CINIA to provide the necessary service and CINIA fills the vacancy with one of their employees. CINIA has higher costs than its competition because it must anticipate the risk of having a person with a mental disability in a company but also delivers a high-quality service.


The World Health Organization (WHO) states that disability is a "general term covering impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions"(2016). Impairments are problems that affect a body function or structure; activity limitations are difficulties in executing actions or tasks and participation restrictions are problems of participation in life situations. Thus, "disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of the human organism and the characteristics of the society in which they live."

People with disabilities in Mexico are the most vulnerable group. In 2010, there were more than 5 million people with a disability according to INEGI; although other agencies believe this number is much higher.

CINIA seeks social and workplace inclusion for people with disabilities. The first group of people incorporated into this project were those with mental disabilities. Subsequently, CINIA decided to incorporate people with other disabilities. In its Parametric Chart on November 2012, Parametría identified that 46% of respondents indicated that their family or friend is impaired with a mobility disability, 18% had a mental disability, 19% of them had a language disability, 9% had a hearing impairment and 7% had any other disabilities.

Nowadays, CINIA is working with sensory disabilities (deaf and blind), intellectual disabilities (56 variants ranging from autism to Down syndrome) or motor impairment (moving and manipulating objects). However, according to Mr. Diez, there is only one type of disability that keeps you from working and that prevails in our country, "laziness".

Areas of employment were expanded. CINIA started with crafts (Cantoya balloons and handmade dolls). In the words of Fernando, “that growth we had in taking care of disabilities also expanded in terms of our work division, we initially used to sell crafts, cantoya balloons, etc. Two years ago on Dec 1st, there was a Cantoya Baloon Festival in Las Fuentes in which 16,000 balloons were produced by us”.Then, CINIA diversified into services such as gardening (maintenance, landscape design, supply rolls of grass and nursery plants); cleaning (interior and exterior professional cleaning); gastronomy (pastry services and sandwiches) and textiles (design and development of industrial and institutional uniforms and cutting services embroidery).

The creation and incorporation of CINIA in enterprises was complicated because companies did not want to buy products or hire services provided by disabled people; in addition to changing the mentality of the families of the disabled from thinking that the recruits were only going to learn, into realizing that they can also become productive and independent.

Maria del Rosario Serrano Ramírez is visually impaired and said that she performs sales and collection functions besides being a receptionist at CINIA for the last ten years in an interview with She stated: "I feel very good working at CINIA. Before I started working here, I worked at a financial group, but the work was very stressful. I feel much more identified here as there are many disabled people just like me.”

CINIA- A Company Where Disability is a Labor Competence


The interest stems mainly from former President of CINIA, Don Antonino Fernandez Rodriguez, who passed away in August of 2016. He was CEO and President of Grupo Modelo and he continued as Honorary Life Chairman of Grupo Modelo even after leaving to do something for people with disabilities. He bet on "this dream" through his generosity, providing the necessary resources that allowed the emergence of this great project.

Don Antonino was inspired by a Spanish project called "Grupo Gureak" ("Gureak" means "our" in Basque). The company has been generating jobs worldwide for vulnerable groups for 40 years. It currently has 5000 employees with disabilities.

Don Antonino asked Mr. Fernando Diez to go to Spain and get to know the project because, in his own words, "my interest is to do something for people with disabilities”. Soon after this, he was asked to start an investigation of disabilities in Mexico; the study showed that there is a large number of public and private institutions serving people with disabilities, but none of them were dedicated to providing them with employment.

This whole experience completely changed the vision of Fernando. At the beginning he felt some uncertainty, however, he soon felt motivation and excitement and decided to join the project. That was how he found the motivation and inspiration to discover the meaning of their great work and transcend through it. Fortunately, Don Antonino Fernandez and Fernando had similar ideas thus creating the "last link" that was needed to achieve social and employment integration.

There were several aspects that must fit between Spain and Mexico. The model was successful in Spain, but some people could think that it would fail in different contexts because of the culture, economy, social conditions and inclusion. Despite these points, the model is working in Mexico.

It worked because the model has a very good structure, solid values and is focused on the wellness of the person. That is why it will probably work in any context that also has a person-centered approach.

The project would initially develop in Toluca. However, María del Socorro Alfaro, the wife of Melquiades Morales Flores (Governor of Puebla, 1999-2005), came in contact with the project and she "fell in love with it” and was determined to “bring the project to Puebla.”

The property was donated by the Fundación Virgen del Camino. All equipment and working capital were contributed by the community. This is how CINIA was established in Puebla.

Initially, it was going to be called "Solidaridad y Trabajo en México (Solidarity and Work in Mexico )", but six months before its opening, the wife of Don Antonino, Doña Eucicinia González (an original name from Leon, Spain) passed away, she was also known as "CINIA". For this reason, the group name changed to CINIA, its acronym stands for: Training (C), Industry (IN) and Crafts (IA) in Spanish, which are the main tasks performed at the company.

According to Fernando, CINIA'S CEO, the biggest inspiration of the group is the commitment to "our people, our employees.” CINIA considers that "good actions" create the difference between them and other companies.

Another great source of inspiration is "our costumers", allowing to carry out the mission of the company, keeping it alive, thanks to their support in purchasing our products.

This is how we contribute to a paradigm shift, by introducing vulnerable or minority groups into social and business fields, fulfilling the needs of the society.

The intention of CINIA is doing things right, because, in the words of Fernando, "you do not see people with disability, and those who you do see are those who are asking for money on street corners or selling the little card "I am deaf ". So, your perception is that "they cannot work, but only live on charity and they cannot perform quality work", so, that is a paradigm that in CINIA they seek to change.

Finally, Fernando shared with us that CINIA is born in the firm belief that work is one of the first ways for people with disability to live with equal opportunities and achieving respect for their rights. “Employment promotes autonomy and professional realization, besides providing benefits for the whole community, promoting social cohesion and work with the human capital of this group”.

Overall impact

CINIA is a successful model that started with 22 young men and after the first year, there were 70 people with disabilities working at CINIA. After 11 years, CINIA has over 380 employees and approximately 1200 have left to undertake some business or have had better job opportunities. The company has cared for the personal development of workers through the encouragement of the completion of their basic education, participating in sports and cultural activities, and receiving constant training allowing them to obtain a certificate to include in their resume.

Quality in production and service delivery is permanent. This allows you to remain in the market with your established customers and future customers as stated in the CINIA Mission: "To satisfy our customers and their pride in what we do. Be a company where our greatest strength is our people working as a team for the sustainability in all our business areas and the on-going commitment to our values and reason for being."

Besides this, Fernando believes that “our craft products make people smile, uplift dreams and that they are the products with a little piece of soul made with the commitment and creativity of our craftsman's hands. These products have their origin in ancient Mexican traditions, we add design, creativity, and imagination, besides improving the production techniques. The result is craft products with innovations and unique in their kind”.

Since they do not receive donations, like any business, they are subject to audits to make its activities and financial resources obtained from sales transparent.

Business benefit

CINIA seeks to position itself through the quality of its services. The products offered have greater cost due to the expenses of the structure. There is always a risk when working with people with disabilities and sending them to work outside of CINIA and by subjecting them to a different working environment than what they are used to. They may have inadequate reactions, so they need to work in groups with proper supervision.

Fernando thinks that “working with people with disabilities, offering products with the highest quality, on-time deliveries, competitive costs through design, and a multidisciplinary platform has allowed us to acknowledge that every uniform that is produced with our projects and personalizes what each of our clients do. We have participated in several tenders and won one with Chedraui, a food market chain”.

Suppliers and employers are given an incentive in their policy of social responsibility. They improve their working environment, their joy and gratitude towards life, inspire their colleagues, who often think: "How can I keep complaining when I know what this person is going through with their disability and abuse from their family and government? " People with disabilities often have developed specific abilities and skills at above-average levels of performance. Also, companies that hire them are given the possibility of having committed, stable staff. Some of them having no family can devote themselves more fully to their work without delays, absences, etc.

Businesses that hire our people have the possibility of tax incentives and access to public funds for staff development related to the proportion of employees with disabilities in their organization.

As Fernando said, CINIA has to continue being competitive, and the only way is “to position ourselves through quality, we are not the cheapest for two main reasons: first of all because we don't want to be cheap, we are sure that if we were the cheapest, or be promoted as the cheapest, you'd say “with disability and being cheap, they are surely being exploited”. Second, because we don’t want to promote ourselves as: ¨Hey Fer, hire me because I have a disability, but hire me because I will give you good service, I'll give you a good product, we'll be competitive”.

The products offered have greater cost due to the expenses of the structure. Regarding the cleaning duties, Fernando shared with us that "it takes us up to three months to train a single person to do that task. It's a structural cost that we have that other companies don’t. We also have a supervision cost because during the first year that you trained Jesus to do the cleaning the correct way, well that's really easy but now send him to Cadillac and surprise! We realize that they can't be by themselves, or it isn’t correct for them to be by themselves because the process they learn is part of a series. He starts with the table, moves on to the chair, the floor and that's their routine. Sometimes they forget and have some mental pauses, times when they don’t know where to go, so it is really important for them to have a supervisor. That's the reason they work in teams. So that means, we have a higher cost than other companies”.

Social and environmental benefit

One of the mainstays of CINIA is to see people with disabilities as any other human being. They are not sick. They are able to work, they have virtues and values such as gratitude, responsibility and desire to succeed. "We seek to transform the image society has of them."

According to Fernando, “we share with our clients the experience we have cultivated over the years, particularly in two important areas for our company today, corporate design and social and labor inclusion”.

The greatest contribution to society is that workers acknowledge that they are productive people who know their rights. They are also taught habits of cleanliness, coexistence and the value of money.

This demonstrates that people with disabilities can make a quality product, completely transforming the role they play in society and "how they are seen by their families," considering that most workers at CINIA group have never had a job. According to them, they grow from being "helpless" or "unproductive" into being self-sufficient persons. Fernando said that “parents of the boys began to believe in us, I think it was an important moment and that was when the first results of this work emerged”.

We are looking to transform those paradigms, fears, and ignorance that exist in our country towards people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. According to Fernando Diez, it is because "something that you do not acknowledge is something you cannot do something about.”

In that sense, a disability will be linked in most cases to poverty by not having the opportunity to study or work. Poverty triggers certain disabilities by not having the necessary resources to acquire prosthesis, apparatus, or simply do not provide an education and specialized care.

According to the way of thinking of Fernando, the problem of disabilities in Mexico will not be solved by CINIA, the real change comes when each company says "I will commit to hire people with disabilities." CINIA Group is a great example that "you can do things right", as it has managed to position its products in the competitive quality market.

Fernando thinks that CINIA is "the instrument or tool for people to transform their lives," having a great impact on society. The perception of the community has changed drastically from being "the poor, maintained, handicapped person who is at home", which often requires that a family member does not work to pursue their care, to becoming someone productive, that even supports his or her parents and ironically, gives them social security, thus constituting a "virtuous circle" that benefits the community.

Finally, CINIA has achieved that society perceives people with disabilities as a company instead of a "charity". CINIA is looking to be an example to the world. This is why workers are encouraged to do their best every day, motivating them by saying: "I do my job as if it were for the person I love the most".

That is because, according to Fernando “our vital ingredient regarding our gastronomy area is love for what we do and for whom we do it”.


Fernando Diez Torres, Chief Executive Officer

Photo of interviewee

Business information



Puebla, Pue, MX
Business Website:
Year Founded: 2005
Number of Employees: 201 to 500