High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Endeavor featured in 16-page report in a top Mexico business magazine

By David Rousseau, Endeavor summer intern

As a highlight of Endeavor Mexico‘s 10th anniversary celebration, a 16-page report on Endeavor entitled the “The Entrepreneur Club” was featured in the June edition of CNN Expansion, one of Mexico’s most influential business magazines. The report offered an inside look on seven influential members of the Endeavor network. CLICK HERE to view the article (in Spanish) as a PDF.

Below is a brief summary in English…

1. Linda Rottenberg: the “crazy girl”

The year was 1996, and in the back of an Argentinian taxi cab, a powerful idea was born. While conversing with the taxi driver, Linda Rottenberg, a young Yale graduate still uncertain of her career path, was struck with the realization that the word “entrepreneur” did not exist in Spanish. At the root of this semantic peculiarity was a more pervasive problem: developing countries lacked the entrepreneurial culture necessary for talented individuals and businesses to reach their full potential. Without access to capital or mentors, these individuals could not become entrepreneurs and scale their business. Linda wanted to address this problem by creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that would nurture small and medium enterprises and help them grow. She launched Endeavor in 1997.

2. Pedro Aspe: the patron

Endeavor would be nothing without its network.The organization prides itself on its extensive web of seasoned business experts, entrepreneurs, and investors. The company’s success in a given country depends much on its ability to develop a viable network for its entrepreneurs. In Mexico, Endeavor struck gold. Pedro Aspe, the well-respected and well-connected business leader, teamed up with seven fellow business leaders to provide the financing and network necessary to launch Endeavor Mexico.

Endeavor Mexico, whose office has selected the most entrepreneurs of any country, is striving to reach ambitious goals for the coming decade. For instance, by 2020, the office intends to increase the number of entrepreneurs selected every year from 13 to 20.

3. Fernando Fabre: the innovator

Fernando Fabre’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit revolutionized Endeavor’s business practices in his years as president of Endeavor Mexico. In his 6 years as head of the Mexico office, Fernando tripled the number of entrepreneurs in the network (from 15 to 45) and increased the number of mentors ten-fold, from 30 to 300. His innovative business practices were replicated in 14 regional offices. Linda paid very close attention to Mexico’s success and wanted the office’s results to be replicated at the global level. As a result, she invited Fernando to become president of Endeavor in 2010. Today, as Endeavor’s president, Fernando is striving to translate his success in Mexico at a global level.

4. Pilar Aguilar: the strategist

A day after resigning from her position as the HR director of Bain & Company to dedicate herself to philanthropic work, Pilar received a call from Fernando, who was about to move to New York as president of Endeavor. A former director of the “Commercial Intelligence” division  of Telefonica Moviles in Mexico who had  worked as a consultant in transport and energy for McKinsey and Company and guided the corporate development of Mexican satellite cities, Pilar Aguilar was the ideal candidate to head Mexico’s regional office. Today, Pilar is reaching for an ambitious objective: for Endeavor firms to account for 1% of Mexico’s GDP.

5. Eric Descombes: the mentor

Mentors are key drivers in helping Endeavor entrepreneurs bring their company to the next level. Individuals such as Eric Descombes, president of the ad agency Young & Rubicam Mexico and founder of Interfax 401, are a crucial part of the network. As impartial advisors that are not compensated for their time, they provide valuable business insight to entrepreneurs who lack the guidance necessary to take their business to the next level. “Mentors are the true heroes of our time,” proclaims Pilar Aguilar, president of Endeavor Mexico.

6. Jaime Cater: the inspirer

At the forefront of the movement to modernize healthcare in Mexico, Endeavor Entrepreneur and his company HDS are helping to bring the health-care sector out of the dark ages.” Its web-based software helps hospitals, clinics, state departments, and health insurance companies deal with the serious problem of clinical mismanagement. Most health entities in Mexico operate with outdated technologies, to the detriment of the patient. Since being selected in 2009, HDS has multiplied sales tenfold, grown revenues by over 1,200%, and entered new markets such as Colombia and Venezuela.

7. Sergio Garcia de Alba: the civil servant

In every country in which it operates, Endeavor “must encourage the creation of public policies that help entrepreneurs,” asserts Linda Rottenberg. Endeavor Mexico’s success in working with the public sector illustrates the importance of such an approach. When Pedro Aspe and Fernando Fabre walked into the office of Garcia de Alva, the undersecretary of  Mexico’s Small and Medium Enterprises (Spyme), they went in with a concrete objective: obtain government funds to finance Endeavor’s business accelerator program. Garcia de Alba, who saw in their endeavor the opportunity to boost the economy, accepted the proposal and drafted a new article in the statutes of the PME (Spyme) funds. The article stipulated that strategic high impact projects could obtain up to 85% of the investments needed. Thanks to Garcia’s help, Fernando acquired enough resources to work on special projects such as improving the offices, opening an information portal for businesses, and printing a book to promote entrepreneurship.

Nevertheless, some dissident voices criticize the model behind Endeavor’s selection process in Mexico and abroad–saying its growth is limited by the fact its process is so selective. However, as Pilar Aguilar explains, “The business people and mentors that make up the board of directors need to feel that their donations have an impact. That is why we have to be so strict in our selection process.”


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