Price grad launches Mexico real estate venture, driven by a social purpose
By Matthew Kredell
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in May from the USC Price School of Public Policy, Alysa Kammermeyer spent the summer in a burgeoning resort town on the Mexico coast, working on starting a real estate venture with a social cause.
Kammermeyer and her fiancée, Fernando Duque, founded a property management business for short-term vacation rentals called Kan’ele Homes in Tulum, Mexico. They chose Tulum because it has beautiful beaches similar to Cancun, its Quintana Roo neighbor 80 miles north, along with well-preserved Mayan ruins.
“The reason we came to Tulum is because it’s the fastest growing market in Latin America,” Kammermeyer said. “It’s a really small town of less than 20,000 people, but it’s booming really fast, real estate prices are going up and people are building everywhere.”
She added that, in contrast to the bustle of Cancun, Tulum offers a more relaxed beach vibe. “It’s a really cool place to work and interesting for real estate, which is part of what I studied at USC Price,” she said.
Shaped by global and local experiences
Kammermeyer is used to international travel. A dual citizen of the United States and Morocco, she spent much of her childhood going back and forth living a year with her mother in the U.S. and a year with her father in Morocco.
At USC Price, she participated in the USC Price on the Rhine study abroad program that brings students to Speyer University in Germany for six weeks to focus on governance issues taught from a comparative perspective, as they relate to the U.S., Germany and the European Union.
After returning from Europe, she assisted the program director, USC Price Professor William Resh, by helping to collect interview data with local government employees across municipalities in L.A. County for his research project evaluating the willingness of government employees to engage with citizens.
“Alysa was a fantastic and intellectually curious student who found an interest in almost every subject we offered through the On the Rhine program,” Resh said. “She is an absolute pleasure to work with, and I have no doubt that she will excel in any future endeavor she decides to tackle.”
Helping friends in time of crisis
During a continuation of her trip as part of the Rhine program, Kammermeyer was in Greece and met Duque, who had just completed his master’s degree and was returning to Boston to work in real estate. Born in Venezuela, Duque had friends he wanted to help amid the country’s severe economic crisis. The impetus for Duque and Kammermeyer to start their business in Mexico was to provide pathways for those friends who were trying to leave Venezuela in search of better job opportunities.
To that end, she found particularly valuable a course she took in social innovation taught by Assistant Professor Nicolas Duquette.
“My last semester, I took a class in social innovation that really left a big impression on me, particularly because I knew how I would be putting to use the information I was learning,” Kammermeyer said. “It was all about creating business with a social purpose.”
Setting future sights on education policy
Kammermeyer took advantage of opportunities at USC Price to complete two internships, one in the district office of State Sen. Holly Mitchell across the street from campus in Exposition Park, and the other in Sacramento for Capitol Advisors Group, an educational lobbyist that advocates for small school districts in California.
Eventually, when Kan’ele Homes is built and producing passive income, she wants to work in education policy. From her internships, she learned that she would prefer to approach education policy from the private sector.
“When I get back into education policy, I want it to be through an organization that works with the government but not from within,” Kammermeyer said. “I think education is revolutionary, and it’s always interested me for that reason. Education makes it possible for people to think for themselves, advocate for themselves, and make decisions that are good for themselves and good for everyone as a whole.”