Reactions and Takeaways from the Latin America Conference

What did you learn in the first keynote session?
Building and Sustaining a Successful Enterprise in Latin America
Speakers: Daniel Servitje (CEO, Grupo Bimbo), Ralph Alvarez (President & COO, McDonald’s Corporation)

1. Migration is an important topic for globalized companies in Latam.
2. Multinationals are now targeting new healthy consumption trends.
3. Macroeconomic and political conditions drastically affect the performance of companies.
4. Aspirational goods find attractive target markets in Latam.
5. Latam still is a VERY attractive market for consumer goods and food retail companies because of demographic conditions, recent macro stability, and convergence with the U.S.
6. There are many opportunities in Latin America to improve supply chains.
7. There are some enterprises from Latam that are competitive in the global environment.
8. How volatile business could be in emerging economies and the importance to quickly adapt the business model.

What did you learn in the second keynote session?
Macroeconomic Trends, Reforms, and Productivity in Latin America: Policy Implications
Speakers: Pedro Aspe (Co-Chairman, Evercore; CEO, Protego; Former Mexican Minister of Finance), Rudolph Hommes (Managing Director, Capital Advisory Partners; Former Colombian Minister of Finance)

1. The private and the public sector can collaborate and generate relevant transformations without the need of radical structural reforms.
2. Productivity growth is fundamental for the improvement of economic conditions (and poverty reduction).
3. Two Latin Americas are being created: one, open to the market and liberalization. The other, returning to populism and the radical left.
4. Chile is having impressive growth.
5. Latam has strong and growing entrepreneurial communities.
6. The next 20 years will be the best for entrepreneurs in Latam.
7. The economic beliefs of the two finance ministers were very conservative.

What did you learn in the third keynote session?
The Future of Latin America: A Political Perspective
Speakers: Cesar Gaviria (Chairman, Otungroup; Former President of Colombia; Former Secretary General, Organization of American States), Alejandro Toledo (Former President of Peru)

1. Poverty and lack of infrastructure are still dragging down the development of the region.
2. Structural reforms are not always popular.
3. HBS students need to think deeply about going back to their countries in Latam to create value, employments, etc.
4. Nutrition, health, education and growth will break the negative cycle and bring Latam out of poverty.

What did you learn in the panels?

Foreign Investments in Latin America
1. Latam has good foreign investment. This investment is fueled by temporary positive variables like remittances, oil prices, and tourism.
2. Latam still needs to develop capital markets.
3. Latam investors are becoming much more sophisticated.

Biofuels: Growing the Future of Fuels in Latin America
Creation of alternative sources of energy is already economically feasible in Latam. Biodiesel plants can be smaller but riskier. For an ethanol plan it’s better to be halfway between the raw material and the clients.

Venture Capital and Private Equity in Latin America
1. There is little VC/PE activity in Latam.
2. It is difficult for PE investors to exit investments in Latam.
3. There is a great deal of uncertainty in the VC community.
4. The primary problems facing PE/VC in Latin America are the difficulty of entering the industry and the future of the industry as seen by professionals inside it.

Reaching the Hispanic Markets in the U.S.
This session communicated the significance of the Hispanic market opportunity.

Social Enterprise at Work in Latin America
This session gave the for-profit perspective on social enterprise.