The visionary teenager who placed his bets on Spanish as an asset
In the early 1980s a teenager named Antonio Anadón traveled to the USA to discover the world while learning English with an international educational program. Since he was dyslexic and hyperactive, his mother thought he would benefit from a different way to learn a second language. She was very surprised at how quickly and effectively he learned English without the traditional classroom-based teaching he was used to. By combining learning and traveling abroad he had a life-changing experience that would leave an imprint on him forever.
Full of passion, at the age of seventeen he started organizing ski and language trips for his high school colleagues and university students. A few years later, in 1989, after customizing more than 12,000 trips he founded Enforex, a global provider of language and cultural immersion programs for children, university students, and professionals.
In times when the internet and smartphones did not exist and international travel was mostly unaffordable, Antonio dedicated most of his time to visiting top universities including Harvard, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, Oxford, and the London School of Economics, while traveling all over the world looking for the right partnerships for students who wanted to study abroad. Along the way he realized the interest in having a cultural experience worked both ways: “It was clear to me there was an incredible potential market willing to travel to Spain to learn about our culture and language,” says Anadón, who had become an ambassador of Spanish culture in times when globalization and diversity were not a trend. Shortly thereafter, in 1992, he started the first Spanish language school in Madrid.
Antonio’s vision led him to scale his business model rapidly by opening Spanish language schools in key destinations like Barcelona, Marbella, Salamanca, Valencia, Sevilla, Granada, Alicante, Tenerife, and Malaga, and expanding to Latin America in strategic countries like Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, and taking over his main competitor and market leader don Quijote in 2005. To gain more viability, the business plan included a 50% increase in turnover per year and a corporate and governance restructuring plan, which resulted in creating the Ideal Education Group, IEG, the leading Spanish language teaching organization worldwide.
Thanks to its remarkable results, the IEG business model includes teaching Spanish and other languages, designing cultural immersions for students who travel to study in other countries, and delivering study abroad programs and services for over 250 American and other international universities offering academic credits, and always maintaining a division of the company dedicated to accommodations for the students.
As demand increased, a new challenge arose: where to accommodate such a large volume of students. Staying in a traditional student residence did not fit the IEG model. It was time to innovate, and Antonio discovered his second passion, linked to his love for architecture: redesigning the concept of international student accommodation. From host families to shared apartments, from residences to boutique luxury hotels and “student hubs,” where everyone can be independent yet interconnected, in line with millennial values.
IEG owns and manages over 3,000 student beds, distributed among 7 residences, more than 150 shared apartments, 1,500 host families, and 1 boutique hotel from the Intercontinental Hotel Group under the Indigo brand. Flexible and fearless, the company has always been a leader in many areas: it was a pioneer in designing international and diverse summer camps by mixing Spanish students with students of more than 82 different nationalities, introducing sports — soccer, sailing, tennis, golf, swimming club, horseback riding — as a way of learning and interacting, and designing workshops focused on real life activities like entrepreneurship, urban dance, social networks and digital media, robotics, cooking lessons, etc., to learn Spanish in a non-traditional way, always combining students of different nationalities.
In the academic field, IEG’s greatest achievements have been quality and innovation in its teaching methods. The don Quijote and Enforex schools have been able to successfully respond to major challenges, such as the publication of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in 2001. This was possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of its solid academic team made up of more than 500 teachers in Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Ecuador, who, following their own and international quality standards, ensure success in the learning process and the experience of each student.
Today, with more than 40,000 international students enrolled per year, a 36% market share, and revenues of over 40 million euros, the Ideal Education Group, with its Enforex and don Quijote brands, has been the largest leading Spanish education and cultural immersion provider in the world for the last 13 years. The company’s global operations include 32 schools in 13 destinations in Spain and Latin America, 8 international summer camps, 5 corporate offices on 4 continents, and a mature network of more than 3,000 partnerships worldwide. Thanks to Antonio’s vision, more than 1 million students have had a unique, life-changing experience through language and culture since the first Enforex school opened back in 1995.
The dream is still very much alive. Everything IEG does is oriented towards opening the world through education. In times of global competition, maintaining leadership status for more than 13 years is not easy. The winning formula is being “student-centered.” By maintaining the core values of the company — Innovation, Teamwork, Passion, Excellence, Leadership, and a Global Vision — everyone on our team is committed to inspiring students to achieve their dreams through educational and cultural experiences, and to continue looking for and grasping opportunities.
In a world where soft skills like languages and an international mindset seem to be part of the solution to global problems, IEG is fully committed to building bridges and benefiting those who are attracted to the Spanish language and culture, regardless of their economic situation. IEG, through the don Quijote Foundation, offers more than 200 scholarships to students of all ages from all over the world.
Antonio’s objective has always been to contribute to the world by creating a company that could employ the largest number of people possible and benefit their families. IEG proudly provides over 2,500 jobs among its workforce and collaborators and is committed to continual growth.
The business development plan for the coming years includes consolidating the company’s digitalization, strengthening its alumni and partnership networks, and above all increasing its presence in Latin America in emerging destinations like Cuba with a strong investment in the region.
Enforex is founded in Spain as a study abroad organization on January 28, 1989
Enforex opens its first language academy in Madrid
Enforex opens its first Spanish Language Campus in Madrid
The international Summer Camps division opens in Madrid
- Creation of the first Enforex website
- Acquisition of the Kaplan Education Center license, belonging to the Washington Post, for the preparation of official exams like GMAT, TOEFL, SAT, USMLA
Enforex opens its first Spanish Language Campus in Barcelona
The Enforex Student Residences Division is established
Enforex forges alliances with language schools in Latin America
Prisma is born, the IEG innovative Spanish Learning Methodology is created
Enforex acquires two Spanish Language Campuses in Alicante and Valencia
Enforex acquires the donQuijote Schools Group
Ideal Education Group is created
The don Quijote Foundation is created
IEG opens its first commercial office in the U.S. by acquiring Amerispan Study Abroad
IEG opens its first commercial office in China
IEG creates a consortium of 30+ Spanish Universities named Eduspain
IEG acquires three Spanish Language Campuses in Mexico through Solexico
Through the acquisition of Colombus, new Spanish Language Schools in Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Mexico join IEG
The Online Learning Division is created
IEG currently has 32 Spanish Language Campuses in 13 countries, 8 international summer camps, and extensive student residences