About Maria Elena Ibañez
Maria Elena Ibañez is a highly successful entrepreneur who has built not just one, but three of the fastest-growing companies in the US. From a very young age, she has been a real pioneer, and a woman pioneer in a world of mostly male business people. She wrote the first accounting software in Spanish when she was in high school in Colombia, took calculated risks, opening new markets and launching new products. Her first two companies were in information technology, first distributing computers and software in Latin America and then launching her own brand of computers in Africa.
Her third Company, "El Latino" which she is growing right now, revives the nostalgic feelings of the tastes Latin Americans enjoyed when they were growing up, by offering them a line of cheeses, cheese breads (pan de bono), cornbreads (arepas), tropical fruit smoothies, Argentinean sausages, salamis, and other delicious, authentic foods.
Maria Elena launched her "El Latino" brand in 2002 and built it into one of the fastest growing Hispanic food brands in the nation. El Latino offers Latin consumers the authentic flavors of their roots, prepared with carefully selected ingredients of the highest quality. Her products are widely distributed through major supermarket chains including Publix, Winn-Dixie, Walmart, Sedano’s, many restaurants and all the Hispanic supermarkets in South Florida.
In the middle of this amazing growth, with record sales and a non-stop flow of new products, Maria Elena is personally involved in all details of the brand and the customer experience. She fine tunes formulas for new products so they match the authentic tastes and textures of each of their origin countries, whether it be Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, or Cuba, and keeps sending each one back to the drawing board until they are just perfect: She tests shipments to make sure there are no manufacturing errors. She adds new sales locations, designs the most efficient routes for her delivery trucks, visits the store managers and makes sure the products are always fresh, and easily available for the consumers. She doesn’t leave any detail to chance. She also built on her IT background to add automation, controls, reports and check points, ensuring the best possible quality and availability for the consumers of her products.
Maria Elena is a Computer Science graduate from FIU, where she also served on the Board of Trustees. In addition, she has been involved in a number of Boards and community organizations including The Beacon Council, The Fiduciary Trust, Sprint, as well as President Clinton's Southern Region Advisory Committee for Economic Development.
She was also featured in numerous books including:
- Chicken Soup for the Working Woman's Soul. By Jack Canfield
- Unstoppable. By Cynthia Kersey
- World Class. By Rosabeth Moss Kantor
- Enterprising Women. By David Silver
- Quantum Companies. By David Silver
- Taking Control of your Live. By Gail Blanke and Cathleen Walas
- Marketing Fourth edition, by Eric N. Berkowitz (University of Massachusetts), Roger A Kerin (Sothern Methodist University), Steven W. Hartley (University of Denver), William Rudelius ( University of Minnesota)
Her accomplishments were recognized by numerous awards, including:
- Board of Directors of the Beacon Council
- Board of Directors of Fiduciary Trust (now Franklin Templeton)
- Board of Directors of Sprint-United Telephone Company of Florida
- President Clinton's Southern Region Advisory Committee for Economic Development
- "Premio Colombia 2013", The Highest award given to the Colombians abroad
- "America Dreamer Award 2013", by Hispanic Unity of Florida
- "Florida International University’s Distinguished Alumna"
- The following Awards by the SBA:
- "National Leadership"
- "Person of the Year"
- "Exporter of the Year"
- South Florida Magazine’s "Top Women Achievers" Award
- Avon’s "Women of Enterprise" Award
Recognized by President Clinton as one of Florida’s 100 Fastest-growing Firms
Honored in Esquire Magazine's 6th Annual Register