ECUADOR - Economy
General Manager, Grupo Futuro
Juan Carlos Berrú de la Torre is a commercial engineer with a master’s degree in financial management, with a broad and solid 27 years of experience in banking. He was corporate vice president of business banking at Banco Pichincha and has been a member of the board of directors of banks, investment funds, companies, unions, and federations for more than 15 years. He is currently General Manager of Grupo Futuro.
Grupo Futuro is among the 20 biggest business groups in Ecuador, with 19 companies and more than 4,500 employees.
How did Grupo Futuro’s holding company come to be?
Grupo Futuro was born from the entrepreneurial spirit of five friends, led by Roque Sevilla, who got together in 1973 to set up a company called Tecniseguros, the group’s brokerage company. Over time, Tecniseguros grew, and the company decided to expand its operations into other sectors. In 1993, they grouped all these different companies together and renamed the holding company Grupo Futuro. In 2001, the group decided to acquire the largest tour operator in the country, Metropolitan Touring, and broke into a new business sector: tourism. Several tourism products have been developed with an emphasis on Galápagos, where today we have three ships and one hotel, another hotel called Mashpi Lodge, and the hotel, Casa Gangotena. These are niche hotels with a focus on more exclusive tourism and an international profile. Before the pandemic, 90% of tourists were foreigners, and the other 10% local tourists. Today, we have a different composition in each segment, but we have strongly developed tourism under a concept of sustainability. Today, we have two major sectors: the insurance sector, which if we were to add all our companies together, we would be the largest insurer; and tourism, where we have the largest operator, as well as products, hotels, and boats that complement our services.
What is the secret to the company’s longevity?
The friends who got together 48 years ago to make a dream come true all share the same business philosophy. We see business as a holistic concept with a long-term vision where we put the customer at the front and center of our activity. We aim to look after the planet and the environment as part of our company’s values. These basic foundations unite our group of shareholders. We have become one of the 15 largest business groups in Ecuador. We have 4,500 employees, and our turnover is around USD600 million.
How does Grupo Futuro visualize sustainability and the green economy?
Within our conduct and philosophy, we see sustainability as a business opportunity and a competitive advantage. This enables us to take care of the planet and create value for all our stakeholders, while also inspiring other companies to get excited about sustainability. It is a strategic pillar of the group. One of our values is sustainability, as we have been pioneers in Ecuador, and we are looking to give it great significance within our business models. Roque Sevilla, our founder, is one of those who have done the most for natural conservation in Ecuador. He was the creator of Fundación Natura, an emblematic foundation dedicated to the environment. In 2020, all our companies achieved carbon neutrality, and we have created a financial mechanism through a trust fund to calculate how much CO2 our companies emit and compensate for this economically. The funds go to the care of forests in the Chocó Andino area. In addition, we have bought 2,500ha there to protect it. Our concept of sustainability is to generate a sustainable landscape in this area and serve as a vital part in the world. We want to continue with the conservation of the forests and generate an economic stimulus to expand our climate change mitigation work. In terms of the trust fund, early in the pandemic, we saw that the needs of the most vulnerable groups were pressing. Roque Sevilla got together with other important businesspeople to look for mechanisms to donate and attend to the poor areas. We formed a trust fund, and partners joined in contributing companies and individuals in a crusade to help the most vulnerable people. We raised USD8.4 million in donations that enabled us to build triage centers. In addition, we made important donations for medical equipment, food banks, as well as partnering with social aid foundations for the most vulnerable people. This was a successful private sector project that helped those who suffered the most during the health crisis.
ECUADOR - Real Estate & Construction
General Manager, Uribe & Schwarzkopf (US)
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