For several students from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University and George Washington University, the Doing Business with Latin America Conference was more than just a conference. It was an event that had been a year in the making, a collaboration between the Latin America Business Associations of all three schools, and an event they hope will continue for years to come.
On Friday, April 27, 2012, the Smith School welcomed students from all three universities and keynote speaker Eduardo Wallentin, manager of strategy and coordination for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), to Van Munching Hall.
Here at Smith, all students are global citizens. Events like Doing Business with Latin America are a great way for students to think beyond U.S. borders and compete in the global community, an idea that Associate Dean of MBA & MS Programs Bob Krapfel recognized as he welcomed attendees to the event.
“This is a very exciting event for us. … It’s about your opportunity to meet with each other and experts on the subject. It’s a signature event for the Smith School in cooperation with Georgetown and George Washington,” Krapfel said. “We hope this event will grow in importance and visibility over time.”
Wallentin spoke to the students about the ongoing challenges associated with doing business with Latin America.
Some of the challenges he sees for Latin America include mobilizing funds, upgrading the infrastructure, improving water efficiency, providing quality education, creating good jobs, and having safety nets for the old, Wallentin told the audience. “Latin American countries need to create 30 million jobs. The need for jobs and reducing unemployment is big and it’s not easy,” he said.
“The middle class has been growing tremendously, and that’s really good for Latin America – we’re talking about the region of the world with the largest income disparity,” he explained. “Latin America will hopefully take advantage of the momentum that is growing. The 2010s can be Latin America’s decade and the time to leave behind the lost decade syndrome.”
Doing Business with Latin America was organized by the Latin America MBA Students Association (LAMBASA) at Smith, the Latin American Business Administration (LABA) at the McDonough School of Business, and the Latin America Business Society (LABS) at the School of Business of George Washington. The event was supported by the Centers of International Business Education and Research at the Smith School and George Washington.