Influential Leaders

Ricardo Sagrera

Ricardo Sagrera

INCAE Business School

Manufacturing and Commercial Services

Ricardo Sagrera is the president of Hilasal Group, which comprises manufacturing, services, and distribution companies. Created in 1942 by Sagrera, Hilasal was the first stamped towel manufacturing company in the region. Now that the company has expanded so greatly, it is exporting to Central America, the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe, and it creates more than 10,000 jobs in El Salvador alone.

Hilasal Group is now one of the biggest manufacturing companies in the region, well known for the benefits given to its employees: the vast majority are paid in excess of the legally mandated minimum wage, and they have a 44-hour workweek policy.

Sagrera believes in the importance of acknowledging how the region has excluded much of its population, and he thinks that organizations should help in bringing it back together by giving people options to become integrated in the business world again, starting with the young ones and with a focus on education. After success as a business entrepreneur, Sagrera decided to become a social entrepreneur by developing his idea and creating the Supérate Program. This program is considered a social franchise to train talented teenagers with high aspirations in English and computer skills. The program started with one center in El Salvador in 2004, and it currently has 10 franchises in Central America: seven in El Salvador, two in Panama, and one in Nicaragua.

Under Sagrera’s leadership, the Supérate Program has helped more than 2,200 young people. It has helped young Central Americans develop their desires to excel personally and professionally and to become key in the development of the region, has delivered a concrete solution to the prevention of violence, and has presented new and better life opportunities to young people from low-income communities.

The program’s successes include Esdras Lopez, a Salvadorian boy who won third place in a Microsoft Office world competition, where people from 70 countries participated, and Glenda Alfaro, who after graduating became inspired and is now working on a sustainable project that will benefit more than a dozen families in her own small town in El Salvador. These are only a couple of examples of what teenagers can achieve given the proper tools and the right direction.

For all these accomplishments, Sagrera was elected INCAE’s 2010 Distinguished Graduate, a recognition given to one man and one woman who have graduated from INCAE and who through their careers reflect INCAE's mission.