Maple Bear already has 4 units in Mexico and is preparing to open at least 4 more in that country and to start operating in Argentina, Paraguay and Peru. The achievements are the result of a consistent process of expansion of the bilingual school chain in Latin America started in 2018.
The brand is one of the finalists in the Internationalization Highlight Award, promoted by Franchising Brasil — a sector project for the internationalization of Brazilian franchise brands carried out by means of a partnership between the Brazilian Association of Franchising (ABF) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil).
Today, Maple Bear is an example to be followed in the bilingual education sector. Founded in North Vancouver, in Canada, the brand has over 508 units, 341 of which operational and 161 being implemented. The chain uses a Canadian bilingual and multicultural teaching method based on experiences, and it currently provides educational services to over 41 thousand students in 20 countries around the world.
The expansion in Latin America began after the SEB Group became the owner of the master Brazilian franchise of Maple Bear. In the end of 2018, the group was granted permission to expand throughout the continent and acquired four units already existing in Mexico. The SEB Group is currently a global partner of Maple Bear.
According to Sarah Lorenzoni, marketing and communications manager of Maple Bear Latin America, the project began with a visit to Mexico, followed by the participation of the brand in an important education fair. That country was chosen based on a survey conducted by a global consultancy agency. During the trip, the team noticed that the Mexican market could offer several opportunities to the brand. The challenges, however, were similar in number: “different curriculums, specific laws in each state, cultural and language differences”, says Sarah.
The next step was to build a team in charge of the expansion, which is currently responsible for activities such as marketing and communications, operations and implementation, educational and legal processes, among others. One of the strategic decisions made by the team was to participate in events supported by Franchising Brasil.
“Since 2018, we have been present in events in Asunción, Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Las Vegas, Portugal and, in 2020, in Mexico. This most recent opportunity led to an agreement for the opening of a new unit in Hermosillo, Sonora. In addition to such important agreement, the missions also gave us the chance of exchanging experiences with other participants, doing networking and getting more information about the markets we visited.”
Despite the quick success, the expansion project required Maple Bear to adapt. According to Sarah, the teaching program had to be, in her words, “tropicalized”. For such purpose, the brand invested in adjustments and creation of contents that would meet the needs of each country. The brand also focused on communications. Even before starting prospecting investors, Maple Bear decided to work on the promotion of the brand in such countries and invested in public relations and digital marketing.
The manager says brand internationalization was a learning process for the Maple Bear Brazil team. “The journey made us to pay more attention to cultural differences, which impact the whole process, especially brand positioning and communications”, she explains. And she adds: “Another important point is the commitment of the Maple Bear team to meet the high-quality Canadian operating, educational and training standards. It emphasizes the idea that we are a chain in Latin America (and worldwide), not just a unit. We know we have been doing everything right when we see children of fathers and mothers who have international careers being transferred from one Maple Bear unit to another without major impacts”.
About the Internationalization Highlight Award
The purpose of the award is to recognize chains that, by participating in initiatives developed by the program destined for promotion and qualification, have started or achieved a consistent internationalization process of their brands.
The award ceremony will be announced soon and three franchises will be the winners in the general category and one chain will be the winner in the Strategy and Consolidation category, which was created because of the high quality of the cases submitted to Apex-Brasil and ABF for appreciation. The criteria to be evaluated by the judging panel composed of members of the Franchising Brasil Management Board are: complexity of sector and market; operationalization process; impact of case; innovation of the initiative; and relationship with the participation in the Program.
About Franchising Brasil
Franchising Brasil is a sector project carried out by means of a partnership between the Brazilian Association of Franchising (ABF) and the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) for the internationalization of Brazilian franchise brands and promotion of their businesses abroad. The initiative was developed to promote this business model that is well recognized in the main international markets.