Author: Leonardo Estrada, Founder at Kogni
In Latin America, the transformative power of AI in education isn’t just about digitizing classrooms. It’s about creating an ecosystem where education becomes a tool to uplift entire communities.
From the lively streets of Mexico City, where as an 8-year-old I ventured into the world by selling apples, to leading transformative tech initiatives across Latin America, my journey has been both arduous and enlightening.
After dedicating six crucial years at P&G, I gained invaluable insights into the corporate world. However, a longing persisted. I yearned for more—more change, more impact.
My heart was set on technology, for I saw its unparalleled potential to reshape lives.
My vision took form in 2018 when I led the creation of a groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence model. Designed to assess the creditworthiness of Uber drivers using only platform data, the model was a testament to innovation and accuracy.While conventional banks grappled with default rates of 5 to 7%, our model boasted an impressive 0.2%. Starting in Mexico, I took the reins to implement this success throughout Latin America, amplifying its impact.
But the journey didn’t stop there. As the General Manager of Mobike in Chile, I steered our ambitious team towards a feat many deemed impossible. In just 6 months, we hit break-even, and by the 8th month, we were reaping profits. Out of the 20 countries where Mobike operated, including giants like the US, China, and Italy, it was in Chile under my leadership that we stood out. Not only did we become the sole profit-making entity, but our success also caught the eye of Meituan, China’s answer to Uber Eats, leading to a staggering $2.7 billion acquisition.
Drawing from these successes, I birthed Hola Cash in 2019, envisioning a PayPal tailored for the heart of Mexico. The platform’s prowess wasn’t just in its technology but its adaptability to our unique market. This innovation didn’t go unnoticed, culminating in a significant acquisition in 2023.
Now, as I stand at the helm of Kogni, I see the endless horizons AI promises for Latin America. My experiences, from selling apples to leading tech revolutions, reaffirm my belief in our potential. Together, let’s harness the transformative power of AI, shaping a brighter, more equitable future for every corner of our vast and vibrant continent.
Unleashing the Power of AI in Latin America: Beyond Classroom Walls to Holistic Well-being
For many in Latin America, the hurdles of daily life aren’t just about accessing quality education. They’re about walking miles to the nearest school without hunger pangs clouding focus, or reaching that school safely without fear of violence or crime. They’re about a parent’s hope that their child learns not just math and science, but the promise of a better life, one of dignity, safety, and well-being. AI has the potential to transform these intertwined challenges, focusing especially on the pivotal role of education.
Holistic Education: Beyond the Four Walls: While traditionally education has been confined to classrooms, AI offers the possibility of learning anywhere, anytime. For a child living in a remote village where the nearest school is a strenuous two-hour walk away, AI-powered platforms can bring that classroom to their doorstep, tailored to their pace and style of learning. These platforms can be accessible through affordable devices or community centers, ensuring education isn’t a distant dream but a doorstep reality.
Bridging Nutritional Gaps: When a student’s stomach rumbles with hunger, concentration wanes. AI can be harnessed to optimize food distribution networks, ensuring timely and adequate delivery of nutritional meals to schools and communities. By analyzing local agricultural data and supply chains, AI can predict shortages and help local communities become self-sufficient, turning schools into hubs of nutrition and health.
Safety First: One of the paramount concerns for families is the safety of their children. AI-driven surveillance and community alert systems can be instituted in crime-sensitive areas, ensuring the paths to and from educational institutions are secure. Through predictive analysis, potential threats or areas of concern can be identified, allowing law enforcement to be proactive rather than reactive.
Empowerment through Information: Often, communities are unaware of opportunities or threats due to lack of information. AI-powered community radio or message boards can keep communities informed, whether it’s about a scholarship opportunity, a health camp, or potential weather disruptions.
Collaborative Learning: AI can foster collaboration among students from different regions, allowing them to learn from each other’s experiences. A student in urban Buenos Aires could collaborate on a project with a peer from rural Bolivia, creating a rich tapestry of shared knowledge and understanding.
Infrastructure Optimization: Through AI’s predictive capabilities, we can determine where new schools or educational centers are most needed, optimizing resources, ensuring that no child is left without access due to geographical constraints.
Tailored Learning for a Diverse Population: Latin America, with its myriad cultures, languages, and traditions, requires an educational approach that’s diverse and inclusive. AI can customize learning materials to be culturally relevant, ensuring that education celebrates diversity rather than diluting it.
Community Upliftment: Schools can become centers for community development. With AI-driven data, these institutions can also host skill development programs for adults in the evenings, health check-up camps during weekends, or serve as information centers, turning them into holistic hubs of community growth and empowerment.
In Latin America, the transformative power of AI in education isn’t just about digitizing classrooms. It’s about creating an ecosystem where education becomes a tool to uplift entire communities, providing not just knowledge but health, safety, and well-being. Through the strategic use of AI, we can ensure that the promise of education in Latin America isn’t just about grades and degrees, but about crafting a brighter, safer, and more prosperous future for all.
Reflecting on the bustling streets of Mexico City and the transformative journey I’ve taken since, I find myself at an intersection of past experiences and future aspirations. From a young boy navigating the complexities of street trade to becoming an advocate for the immense potential of AI, my journey has been anything but linear. Yet, it’s this very tapestry of experiences that allows me to see the broader canvas.
My story, filled with challenges, victories, and lessons, is just one among millions in Latin America. While each tale is unique, we share common dreams – of opportunity, prosperity, safety, and dignity. And as I delve deeper into the world of Artificial Intelligence, I recognize that the tales of our future need not be bound by the limitations of our past.
AI is not just a technological marvel. It’s a tool, a bridge, a key that can unlock doors that many believed were sealed forever. It promises not just efficiency but equity; not just innovation, but inclusion. But harnessing its power requires not just expertise, but empathy; not just data, but dedication.
Let’s explore AI’s boundless potential, grounded in the rich and diverse narratives of Latin America. Let’s script a future where each story is not of struggle, but of success; not of adversity, but of achievement. For in the echoes of our shared past lies the melody of a harmonious, prosperous future – one shaped by the transformative power of AI.