News & Highlights

  • SEPTEMBER 2021

Funding his Purpose: Leonardo Letelier (MBA 2002)

About five years after Leonardo Letelier (MBA 2002) graduated from HBS, he found himself at a career crossroads. He enjoyed the work he was doing as a consultant, but something was missing. He didn’t have the word for it. “Today, everyone talks about purpose,” he says, “but that wasn’t a common discussion back then.” He thought about his work, about the projects he had undertaken around the world that had left him satisfied and about those that made him proud; and, finally, he thought about a meeting with Vera Cordeiro, a Brazilian social entrepreneur for whom he was doing pro bono work. “I left each meeting feeling like a better person,” Letelier recalls. Letelier left his consulting career to help mission-driven nonprofit and for-profit organizations in Brazil access the financing they need to flourish
  • 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.

New Research on the Region

  • January 2022
  • Case

Walmart Goes Global (A)

  • October 2021 (Revised November 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.

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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