Samoa, Benin, the Comoros, the Maldives, the Kiribati archipelago, Tajikistan ... places that are very distant to Latin America. But all of them are covered by the Assist-Card travel care company, a multilatin of European origin that grew in Argentina's Pampas.
The company recently celebrated its 40th birthday and Alexia Keglevich, chief executive and the founder's daughter, explained that in those days "there was no concept of travel care in Latin America". Nor were there Latin American travelers who ventured into exotic destinations. Well-off Latin Americans traveled to Europe and the United States; few even traveled to the rest of Latin America.
Although founded in Geneva, the company moved within months to Buenos Aires and grew within the region while generating 65 percent of its revenues in the Argentine market. Expansion was steadily. Then two crises in quick succession shook up the company's structure in 2001.
The September 11 attack on New York's Twin Towers paralyzed the international travel business. "All of a sudden, everything was up in the air," said Keglevich. "The company was stopped in its tracks. The world was paralyzed." It took three...