A key service from BESA is to provide members with information to make informed steps into new markets. Following the 2024 BETT conference we asked the Department for Business and Trade’s (DBT), Latin America and the Caribbean team to share with our members an overview of the main territories within the region and the opportunities for 2024 and beyond.[i]


With a total population of 203 million, 47.4 million students enrolled in primary and secondary education and 8.6 million in higher education the numbers are high. This is the largest market in Latin America and the Caribbean (LATAC) yet it is estimated that only about 5% of the population speak some level of English making it a much more focused segment open to BESA members. There is a Brazilian National Curriculum called BNCC although to work within this model, Portuguese is essential for scalability. The main customers within the Brazilian education system are publishers; educational groups, distributors, school groups and bilingual/international schools. Ed-Tech solutions are often of interest due to the enormous geography of Brazil, the need for cost efficiency and an openness to innovative tech. Solutions that offer adaptive learning, AI, STEAM, coding, robotics and soft skills are all welcome and especially those that can be delivered in Portuguese.


The second largest market in LATAC and sharing a long land border with the USA means that a larger percentage of people speak English- averaging at about 12% of its impressive 127 million population. Mexico has 25.8 million students enrolled in primary and secondary education and 4 million in higher education. The proximity to North America means that there is a larger demand for English language materials. Mirroring Brazil, the main buyers of British products and services comprise of publishers; educational groups, distributors, school groups and bilingual/international schools. Interestingly, 80% of the e-learning market is served by private sector firms that are looking to enhance their training offer which may be a different customer for BESA members.


A much more concentrated market (only 4 million inhabitants) and less than a million enrolled in all forms of education; Panama has a higher level of English proficiency at approximately 14% of the total population. Signed in 2017, there is an agreement with UK for the establishment and functioning of private international schools that can provide a useful entry point for BESA members. As a more concentrated market, this allows closer access to Ministries and organisations in the public sector. Nevertheless, this is still a complex customer and BESA members are encouraged to think how any arrangements may provide perpetual access or a physical product- especially as changing Governments have to demonstrate value for money and purchases that are tangible to taxpayers. Furthermore, Panama is an excellent gateway into Central America and can be a useful distribution hub or as a base for operations and services to all of LATAC.

Commonwealth Caribbean

It’s vital to remember that each Caribbean country has its autonomous jurisdictions, yet most education models are hybrid, based on British systems and have English as the official language. Countries in the English-speaking Caribbean invest heavily in education in both the public and the private sector ranging 10-29% year on year. Taking a deeper dive into Barbados, the introduction of coding and robotics training programmes within vocational education means that teaching materials in these subjects are in high demand. Alongside the skills and services required to develop apprenticeships in industries related to the blue economy and sustainability. In the realm of EdTech, the Skills for the Future (ii) initiative is focused on inclusive and quality education and is financed by the Inter-American Development Bank and by the Government of Barbados, which again is a slightly different customer from other LATAC markets.

Some top tips

Although each market has its own characteristics, there are some commonalties that are worth bearing in mind as part of your planning stage:

  • The markets are competitive with the private sector often being the most open to the UK offer. The public sector is much trickier- often dependent on the outcome of elections and having a local partner is a must for this customer.
  • The price matters. Make sure you can illustrate your high quality and specialised offer. The local option or equivalent to you is often strong and well known- make sure your product or service stands out.
  • Don’t underestimate local issues that can hinder closing your deal. These can be local currency rates against USD or GBP; taxation; economic factors that can affect a parents’ spending power. Build these into your proposals and timelines.
  • Relationships are very important, they can take time and without them you won’t close any business. These are not transactional markets- having a local presence, a consistent point of contact in your HQ, visiting the market (in person) and keeping in touch regularly all help to be closer to your potential customers.
  • On account of this, being flexible is highly valued. Anything that you can do to customise or “tropicalise” your offer is most appreciated. This attitude will also help you when pitching and negotiating. Processes can seem convoluted for new entrants to the markets and having a flexible stance will save our sanity in the long run.
  • Incorporating all these factors into your approach will help you construct a positive and long-lasting reputation which is paramount to building a client list in Latin America and the Caribbean.

How DBT can help

DBT can help you by speaking to LATAC Government such as Education Secretaries and Ministries; finding the best opportunities on the ground as well as linking you with local associations and networks. Whilst DBT LATAC is actively developing the four markets detailed, experienced Officers are located in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay and the International Market Team LATAC can help address any query for any market in LATAC that you may have.


If you’d like to find out more about these markets, understand the local education policy or share your challenges in trading: DBT LATAC wants to hear from you.  Reach out via exportsupport.latac@fcdo.gov.uk


[i] All statistics and information can be found in the recording, ‘The Education Sector in Latin America and the Caribbean’ accessed 09/01/2024 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yv3zZnrPfzs