eMBA field report: leveraging private sector efficiency to improve education for disadvantaged groups in Mexico
Approaching the midpoint of my internship, I am struck by how quickly and comfortably I have settled in at both Enova and in Mexico City. This is largely due to the collegial, relaxed and inclusive culture at Enova that has made working here both fun and fulfilling. That the company’s entrepreneurs have succeeded in creating such a pleasant work environment without detracting from the urgency of their mission is that much more impressive. As Enova undergoes an aggressive expansion over the next few years, it will certainly be faced with a myriad of challenges and undergo significant changes. However, judging from my short time at the company, it is clear to me the talent and temperament to make this transition as smooth as possible are in place.
Enova, in partnership with the government of the State of Mexico, runs 70 educational centers targeting disadvantaged communities across the state. These centers provide a surprisingly comprehensive range of educational services, ranging from supplemental after-school classes for public school students to adult education for women. The company plans to expand seven fold within the next four years to 500 centers across the entire country. My role has revolved around the strategic planning for this expansion. Though I’ve mainly focused on helping to develop the financial model for the expansion, I’ve also gotten exposure to planning for an effective expansion of the company’s operational functions. The scope of my work has allowed me to experience firsthand the dynamism of Enova’s leadership team. The company is run by three entrepreneurs, Mois Cherem, Raul Maldonado and Jorge Camil Starr. Because their talents complement each other extremely well, each has been able to focus on running a different aspect of Enova, which has allowed the company to grown rapidly over the past three years without major hiccups.
I’ve spent my first few weeks in Mexico getting to know Mexico City better and have been impressed by its vibrant and diverse culture. Living in Colona Roma, where Enova has its offices, has certainly helped as the neighborhood is both charming and bohemian, and boasts a great selection of restaurants, bars, plazas and art galleries, among other things. Despite having initially been a little concerned by the security situation in Mexico, I have not encountered any problems and have felt safe throughout my stay here. I hope to travel more in the second half of my stay and experience what other regions of the country have to offer.
All in all, I am extremely happy with how the eMBA program has shaped up for me. The work that Enova is doing is groundbreaking in many ways and represents an early instance in the emerging world in which the private sector has partnered with government to profitably and efficiently deliver higher quality education to disadvantaged groups. As someone from Southern Africa, I can see the Enova model translating effectively there. From a personal development point of view, the chance to work with Enova’s entrepreneurs has helped me better understand and frame what it takes to build and run a world class enterprise in an emerging market environment.