Microfinance in Mexico
Following eight years in the financial services industry, I came to INSEAD to discover ways in which I could leverage my past experience to make a substantial difference in the lives of ordinary people. When searching for a summer project, I was keen to find somewhere I could make a tangible difference in a short amount of time and I knew social impact would give me the opportunity to live and work on the ground and see the day to day effect my work was having on the ordinary people I hoped to reach. When Iluméxico offered me the opportunity to work on a project in their microfinance division, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me. The business model was exciting, the project was interesting, and with family roots in the region, I have always been drawn to Latin America and opportunities to improve my Spanish. Oh, and, of course, there were tacos.
Iluméxico is a Mexico City-based enterprise whose goal is to “Prende La Luz de Mexico” or “Turn on the lights of Mexico.” Through the use of clean energy alternatives, the company’s mission is to satisfy the energy needs of Mexico’s rural and poor communities who do not currently have access to the country’s existing grid. Through their solar lighting, refrigerator, pump products and financing programs, Iluméxico improves the lives and prospects of individuals, families, businesses, and communities throughout Mexico by offering them a source of energy that is more reliable than traditional methods (candles, diesel, kerosene, etc.), healthier for both the communities and the environment, and economically attractive. Through their product designs, distribution, service, support, and maintenance, iluméxico has brought power to over 10,000 households and become a key catalyst for economic growth at “the bottom of the pyramid” within Mexico.
When I arrived in Mexico City, I immediately went to work analyzing Iluméxico’s credit portfolio and loan processing and collections procedures. What I quickly realized was that there was substantial scope for improving the way in which collections were managed. Over the course of two months, I collaborated with the CEO, COO, and the heads of various regional offices to devise a strategy to improve the overall health metrics of the organizations financing division and, ultimately, to allow greater funding to flow to new projects. It was a project which took many iterations to satisfy all the various stakeholders, but I was excited and optimistic about the final product. Unfortunately, my summer in Mexico came to its inevitable end and I no longer have the ability to observe and analyze the success (hopefully!) of this initiative first-hand. Fortunately, I remain in close contact with Iluméxico and am committed to helping the company in any way I can well into the future!
In two short months, I learned a tremendous amount from working in a small emerging market-based enterprise and developed valuable relationships with the talented team at Iluméxico.
The opportunity gave me the freedom to learn by experimentation and allowed me to put some of my key MBA classroom takeaways to work.
Receiving an INSEAD Social Impact Award allowed me to have this unique experience, and I will forever be grateful for that. I look forward to having the opportunity to support INSEAD’s social impact initiatives in the future. Doing a social impact project is a fantastic way to learn, grow, gain new perspectives, and give back to the community. I encourage all students to seriously consider social impact as part of their INSEAD experience. Did I mention there are tacos?