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    Spanish e-⁠resident Mercedes Gil on using Estonian e-⁠Residency to run an international school in the most efficient, digital way possible

    A class at Spanish e-resident Mercedes Gill's school near Murcia in Spain
    A class at Spanish e-resident Mercedes Gil's school near Murcia in Spain

    Spanish e-resident Mercedes Gil spent 15 years in the banking sector before she decided to open up her own school. Her reasons were personal: this mother of three and Madrid native was unhappy with the schooling options available for her children. She decided to align her school with the values of Montessori education, as well as with the British school system. The majority of instruction at Montessori British School takes place in English, while a fifth of the curriculum is in Spanish, as mandated under Spanish law.

    While the school has evolved in its seven years of operation, the COVID-19 pandemic was a gamechanger. "All of our kids went home, and we couldn't serve them properly," says Gil. To continue teaching students, the school moved to an online format. This proved to be such a tremendous success, that even with restrictions wound down, Gil's British Montessori school has continued partially in an online virtual format.

    "We have had children who come to school one day a week to be with their teachers and fellow students and then attend school for the rest of the week from home," says Gil. "We have served nomad families that spend a month in Mexico and then come back," she says. "That way they can still be with their classmates and connect online to classes."

    Gil's school is based in Murcia, a medium-sized city in the south of Spain. The school also offers a boarding option for students. But it is available in a virtual format to anyone. That presented some issues for Gil, as it clashed somewhat with the traditional Spanish approach toward schooling. It was here that her interests in running an international school in an online format intersected with the Estonian e-⁠Residency program. While Gil's school functions in Spain, by becoming an e-⁠resident, Gil was able to run her company in an efficient digital way, which made interacting with and invoicing parents far easier compared to how it's done in Spain.

    Gil applied two years ago and picked up her e-⁠Residency kit at the Estonian embassy in Madrid. She has never looked back.

    "I love the digital-first mindset," Gil says. "If you cannot do it online, something needs to be changed."

    Gil can now receive payments from all over the world as an e-⁠resident, and also benefits from operating the virtual part of the school within the Estonian banking and tax environment, where taxation is calculated by the tax authority, and paying one's annual taxes can usually be done within minutes.

    Read our guide about cross-border taxes for e-residents to learn more:

    "We have students and teachers all around the world and it is very difficult to make payments and run a virtual operation in the Spanish system," says Gil. She adds that she discovered e-⁠Residency by reading about Estonia and its reputation as a digital country.

    "When I started doing virtual education, I knew the Estonians were doing it too," she says. "I am Spanish but now I like to say that I am half Estonian."

    Teaching online has also helped some students, according to Gil. She says that while half the population is extroverted and the other half is introverted, education typically favors extroverts. Being able to communicate online is somehow easier for introverts, she says, so the online format favors them.

    Going forward, Gil plans to broaden its offering to students. As noted, the school is aligned with the British school system, and prepares students for A-level exams for students aged between 16 and 19, as well as general certificates of secondary education (GCSEs). From September, the school will also offer Business and Technology Education Council qualifications in marketing, business, and e-sports.

    "This will prepare students for organizing events and managing influencers," says Gil of the e-sports BTEC qualification. "It's in the same mindset of making everything available digitally, and translating the real world or nature into the digital world," she says.

    E-resident Mercedes Gil

    Gil will continue to operate the virtual side of her school via Estonia's ecosystem of digital services. She considers herself a newcomer to e-⁠Residency, and believes that the program's nearly 100,000 e-⁠residents are just the tip of the iceberg.

    "We are the early adopters," says Gil, "and this is a great program."

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