News & Highlights

  • OCTOBER 2021

Gustavo A. Herrero (MBA 1976) honored with 2021 HAA Award for Extraordinary Service

The Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) has announced the six recipients of the 2021 HAA Awards including former Latin America Research Center Executive Director, Gustavo A. Herrero, (MBA 1976). Since 1990, the annual HAA Awards has honored alumni for exceptional service to Harvard University through leadership and engagement activities. Gustavo of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has dedicated his career to building international collaboration across Latin America, generously sharing his expertise in institutional development and management with businesses and institutions of higher education. Devoted to expanding the global reach of Harvard Business School (HBS), Herrero was instrumental in founding the HBS Latin America Research Center (LARC), serving for over 14 years as its executive director.
  • SEPTEMBER 2021

A Q+A with Qanlex Co-Founder Yago Zavalia Gahan (MBA 2021)

Yago Zavalia Gahan (MBA 2021) had just begun his career in litigation finance when he noticed that the industry had not yet flourished in Latin America. Litigation finance—an industry that has been present in the US, UK, and Australia since the 90s —provides funding to lawsuit plaintiffs who lack economic resources in exchange for a small share of their proceeds. By providing these funds, litigation finance can help plaintiffs move forward with their case without having to worry about capital, especially when they are up against parties who have access to higher financial assets. Zavalia Gahan co-founded Qanlex, a litigation finance firm that, although based in the US, is helping level the playing field across Latin America and other parts of the world. In this interview, Zavalia Gahan discusses Qanlex, his HBS entrepreneurial journey, and his goals for his company.
  • JUNE 2021

Women in Leadership: A conversation with leaders in the field

In an event co-hosted by LARC and the HBS Club of Mexico, Christine Kenna (MBA ’06) Managing Director of VC firm IGNIA, moderated a conversation with Susana Garcia-Robles, Senior Partner at Capria Ventures, along with Marta Cruz, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at NXTP Ventures. Susana and Marta are mentors, investors, and entrepreneurs who are committed to supporting women’s investment in Latin America. They engaged in a discussion about the difference between impact and purpose, the importance of networks, and the development of soft skills.
  • JULY 2021

Diversity on Boards: A discussion with the HBS Club of Brazil

Together with the HBS Club of Brazil, this July LARC hosted a panel discussion on the diversity of boards. Moderated by Filipe Oliveira (MBA ’15), the HBS Club of Brazil co-president, the panel featured Fernando Carneiro, Spencer Stuart consultant and leader of Spencer Stuart’s Board, Cristina Pinho, Chair of Instituto Luisa Pinho Sartori, and João Brandão, Founding Partner at Bridge One. The panelists discussed why it is important to promote diversity, not only with regards to gender but also industry background. They shared the benefits of having different perspectives and points of view and how it can foster innovation within organizations.

New Research on the Region

  • October 2021 (Revised October 2021)
  • Case

Bodega Aurrera: eCommerce at the Base of the Pyramid

By: Michael Chu, Álvaro Rodríguez Arregui, Carla Larangeira and Jenyfeer Martinez Buitrago

Bodega Aurrera, serving the base of the pyramid and Walmart’s main Mexican format, is considering launching a full eCommerce channel as Covid-19 has erupted in the country. In 2019, Bodega Aurrera accounted for 45% of revenues and 2,748 of Walmex’s 3,416 stores. Having introduced eCommerce with the high-income segments served by its Walmart and Superama formats, Walmart Mexico (Walmex) had slated an online channel for Bodega Aurrera in the next three or four years, considering that its core clients belonged to the C and D socioeconomic segments. However, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, retail store sales plummeted and analysts around the world began to note that sales on digital channels were surging. In late April 2020, Lilia Jaime, the CEO of Bodega Aurrera, wondered if this was an opportunity she had to seize. If so, she had to act right away, ahead of her competition. Yet, normally, the established procedure to introduce a full online channel involved the Walmart Bentonville, AR headquarters at both business and Information Technology (IT) levels, and it would take several months. The only way to launch quickly, the experienced Walmex eCommerce team told her, was by bringing in an outside firm with an eCommerce framework already in place and mounting Bodega Aurrera on top of it. To their knowledge, this had never been done at Walmart before. Also, she would have to carve the initiative out of her own approved budgets, at the expense of projects she already considered a priority. But were the families at the base of the pyramid ready to place grocery orders online and trust paying through digital channels? And if Lilia went ahead and it didn’t work, she would risk inflicting serious damage to one of Mexico’s most beloved brands.

  • October 2021
  • Case

Green Hydrogen in Chile

By: Tarun Khanna, Jenyfeer Martínez Buitrago and Mariana Cal

In 2020, the Chilean government wants to promote green hydrogen, a technology with high potential to help mitigate climate change. President Sebastián Piñera, aware of the country's advantages to produce green hydrogen competitively, asks Energy Minister Juan Carlos Jobet to elaborate a mission-oriented strategy to promote the technology. The strategy was to match the government’s center-right orientation and the country’s political and economic trajectory. Chile was often praised for its strong macroeconomic fundamentals and a sound policy framework. However, the country was facing social and economic disruptions given the Covid-19 pandemic, which added pressure to an already difficult political backdrop. Chile still struggled with unprecedented political uncertainty after social unrest in 2019 led to a wave of protests that forced the government to agree to a constitutional reform and greater social spending.

  • September 2021
  • Case

MAYA Capital

By: Robert F. White, Carla Larangeira and Pedro Levindo

MAYA Capital co-founders Lara Lemann and Monica Saggioro raised $41.5 million through a series of closings for their early-stage Latin American venture capital fund. The two women had met for the first time in mid-2016 when Lemann was contemplating scaling her angel investing experience by structuring a fund, and Saggioro was about to start her MBA program at Harvard Business School. After founding MAYA in 2018, the pair built an investment portfolio in sector-agnostic investments across the region, providing startup founders with an on-demand, hands-on management support approach. MAYA also initiated a series of creative efforts to help develop its venture ecosystem and to source opportunities. By 2021, Lemann and Saggioro had invested approximately $21 million in 28 companies, with several completing subsequent follow-on rounds of financing to support their growth. By then, Latin America´s VC market size had more than doubled since MAYA´s inception, with escalating competition among local players. Lemann and Saggioro faced several important decisions: When should they raise another fund? How large should the next fund be? Should they alter their investment strategy? And as MAYA expanded its portfolio, would they be able to sustain their hands-on management support strategy?

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Buenos Aires Staff

Fernanda Miguel
Christopher P. Torto Executive Director
Mariana Cal
Assistant Director, Research
Jenyfeer Martínez Buitrago
Senior Researcher
Maria Martha Ruiz Melo
Office Manager

São Paulo Staff

Ruth Costas
Senior Researcher
Patricia Thome
Brazil Office & Regional Program Manager
Pedro Levindo
Senior Researcher

Mexico City Staff

Carla Larangeira
Senior Researcher