Rosalía Mera Goyenechea
The story of Rosalía Mera Goyenechea is that of a woman of humble origins who became one of the most important businesswomen in the world.
She was born in 1944 in A Coruña. A Galician entrepreneur, like our very own pioneer M. Luz Morales. She was only eleven years old when she dropped out of school and started working as a seamstress, and later as a shop assistant, in the La Maja shop. There she would meet her husband of twenty years, Amancio Ortega Gaona.
An entrepreneur who set herself no limits
In her early days as an entrepreneur, Rosalía sewed and designed at home with her husband. The first designs were for work clothes. These were the foundations of the multinational Inditex, owner of brands such as Zara, Zara Home, Stradivarius o Massimo Dutti, among others.
The couple had two children, Sandra and Marcos. Like our patron, CATERINA, Rosalía harmonises her professional life with her role as a mother. However, she decided to make her family a priority after the birth of her son, who was born with severe cerebral palsy.
Definitive life change and admirable social role
In 1986, the couple divorced. Rosalía began a change of life that led her to consolidate herself as an entrepreneur. This would mean a new beginning in both her personal and professional life.
Rosalía left her day-to-day work in the world of fashion and sewing, taking time away from business trips and responsibilities, to begin new ventures.
She began studying to become a teacher. She created and headed the foundation to which she would dedicate her passion and efforts for the rest of her life: The Paideia Galiza Foundation. It was a non-profit organisation, based in A Coruña, which was founded to promote the social integration of people with disabilities.
Rosalía Mera a person who put her mind and commitment at the service of the betterment of the most disadvantaged. Perhaps it was due to her modest origins, or perhaps to the circumstances after the birth of her son, Marcos. Through the Paideia Galiza Foundation, she sought to promote employment opportunities for young people and encourage business and cultural entrepreneurship.
She earmarked part of her wealth to fund research into rare diseases. Research into Alzheimer’s disease, among other pathologies, was strengthened thanks to the patronage of this businesswoman.
In the media, she unhesitatingly defended her strong conviction in favour of a political commitment to prioritise the country’s health and education.
Rosalía dedicated herself to admirable social work, but the entrepreneur’s capacity for work did not stop there.
The need for effort as a driving force in life
She founded the Rosp Corunna Participaciones Empresariales corporation, focusing her activity on achieving new goals. She started in the real estate market, a common sector with CATERINA Corporate House, dedicated to the rental of apartments for companies. She would also invest in renewable energies, mariculture, new technologies, etc.
In addition to continuing her stake in the Inditex group, now the world’s second-largest textile company, she became the third-largest shareholder in the pharmaceutical group Zeltia.
In 2004, she founded the Centro Mans, a centre for entrepreneurial initiatives which focuses mainly on the technology and cultural sectors. Without losing sight of Paideia Galiza Foundation’s aim, the concern for collectives who have fewer opportunities, especially people with disabilities. A new initiative is launched that will combine business management and social duty.
These were some of the business activities of a woman who, through tenacity and effort, was able to carve out a business career that earned her recognition from the Galician Regional Government in 2004 with the Castelao Medal and in 2007 with the Mérito al Trabajo (Work Merit) Medal.
In October 2011, she also received a significant award, the Alfiler de Oro (Golden Pin) from the Asociación de Mujeres Siglo XXI, of which Rosalía was an honorary member.
Proud of her origins
Rosalía Mera never denied her humble origins; on the contrary, when interviewed by Iñaki Gabilondo for Canal +, she recalled a happy childhood, despite the economic difficulties of the time.
“The trades of her neighbourhood, the smell of paint” or the memories of her father, whom she described as “a man capable of fixing everything”, formed part of her most endearing personal anecdotes.
She valued her mother’s ambitious spirit, who achieved her desire to set up her own business, a butcher’s shop. Would she have inherited from her mother the entrepreneurial spirit that marked her life?
She started work when she was a child; at the age of forty, she faced her son’s disability and a fresh start after her divorce.
Did these obstacles strengthen this admirable woman?
The success of both her business and her important social work seems to support this idea.
Rosalía Mera passed away on the 15th of August 2013. Fortunately, the legacy and values of this exceptional entrepreneur live on with her daughter Sandra Ortega Mera, now chairwoman of the Paideia Galiza Foundation.