First Ed-Tech Trade Mission by U.S. Government Will Travel to Latin America

Associate Editor

Colombia and Peru will be the first two countries on a U.S. government-sponsored trade mission for educational technology and other services for schools and universities.

Representatives from 10 to 15 U.S.-based companies that are accepted for the mission will travel to Bogotá, Colombia and Lima, Perú on June 5 – 7 to meet with government officials, industry contacts, and potential distributors in the expanding education sectors in those two countries.

“This is the first education technology-focused trade mission that the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service has ever done,” said William Toerpe, who is the education technology sub-team leader there. It is being organized with Partners of the Americas, a nonprofit that works to connect people and organizations across borders “to serve and change lives through lasting partnerships.”

Colombia and Peru were chosen primarily based on feedback from the two commercial specialists who cover the sector in those markets, Toerpe said. “They each have very good connections to their respective ministries of education, to the people who are at the forefront of innovation and educational technology in their countries,” Toerpe said.

In Peru, the Ministry of Education has several initiatives to increase access to education, and to improve student performance, Jorge Prado, the commercial specialist for Peru, said in a webinar presentation about the upcoming event. With over 1 million university students and an ever-growing middle class that is eager to invest in quality education, the market for low-cost, high-quality education in Peru has never been more relevant, he said.

Colombia’s Ministry of Education has focused its efforts to improve infrastructure and connectivity in all schools in the nation, according to Julio Acero, the commercial assistant for that area. The government is making “excellent internet connectivity” in urban and rural areas a priority, and advanced learning platforms are considered a “fundamental element” to improving the quality of education, Acero said in the webinar. The ministry has created a platform with education programs.

Qualifying for the Mission

In recruiting companies to join the mission, Toerpe said no prior export experience is required, and the size of the business is not a factor. A major consideration is that the company can establish a track record of success in the U.S. market and whether what it sells fits into Peru’s or Colombia’s growing commitment to education.

“We had one client who offers a service, not a product or app, ask about joining us,” said Toerpe. The agency was able to determine that there could be a market for this service, and opportunities for this firm. Companies that sell digital curricula, robotics-related products, a learning management system, or other educational technologies are eligible to apply.

“A big plus is having someone on your staff who speaks Spanish fluently,” he said.

Meetings will be held with educators, administrators, chief technology officers, and the officials procuring technology, as well as students, in K-12 and higher education institutions, public and private, Toerpe said.

Toerpe said they are accepting applications now to determine whether a company is a fit for the trip. Decisions will be made in April.

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