Mario López Estrada

Grupo Onyx President

Businessman and Civil Engineer, he was born in Sololá, Guatemala in 1937 and is a graduate of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala.

Mario López Estrada (March 21, 1938 – March 20, 2023) was a Guatemalan businessman, philanthropist, and the founder of Grupo Onyx, a consortium of companies involved in renewable energy generation, consumer products distribution, digital services, and commercial and industrial real estate development in Guatemala and Paraguay. He was also the founder of the Mario López Estrada Foundation.

Mr. López Estrada was born in Sololá, Guatemala. An entrepreneur and a civil engineer by training, he began his business career with the founding of construction company Constructora Maya in 1967, which specialized in real estate, land development, construction of office buildings and shopping malls, and road contracting.

In addition to his private sector activities, Mr. López Estrada also led a distinguished career in public service. He served as the Minister of Communications (1988-1990) under the presidency of Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo, where he led Guatemala’s efforts to develop a robust transportation network expansion, duplicating the number of kilometers in four lane highways, increasing paved roads by more than 30%, and opening new roads to previously unconnected communities in the highlands of Guatemala. Prior to that, he served as the General Manager of the government telecommunications company Empresa Guatemalteca de Telecomunicaciones (Guatel) (1986-1988), which under his leadership increased capacity by adding thousands of new land lines, reducing deficiencies and waiting periods for acquisition of telephone services, and improving long distance capacities during the critical period of democratic transition. Prior to that, Mr. López Estrada served as the Chairman of the Board of the Guatemalan Institute of Insured Mortgages (1978-1980), a government entity specialized in promoting the acquisition of housing for middle income Guatemalans where he promoted the modernization of policies.

In 1994, Mr. López Estrada partnered with Millicom International Cellular, S.A. and Arkade International Inc. to form Comunicaciones Celulares, S. A. (COMCEL). Together they built the Tigo brand and transformed the company into the country’s leading telecommunications provider with more than 11 million subscribers and a market share of 62%. Mr. López Estrada served as a member of the Board of Directors and Vice Chairman of Tigo Guatemala until 2021, when Grupo Onyx sold its stake in Tigo Guatemala.

Mr. López Estrada formed Grupo Onyx in the early 2000s. Key initiatives include the Horus solar power generation plant, which has an installed capacity of 110 MW; six Plaza Madero shopping centers in Guatemala and Paraguay; several industrial storage complexes with more than 34,000 square meters of space; three complexes of office towers with more than 22,000 square meters of offices in Guatemala; a company that provides maintenance services to the network of telecommunications towers; a company that manages the sites where the telecommunications transmission towers are located; a distribution and logistics services company for mass consumption products with more than 60,000 points of sale throughout the country; and the Paseo La Galería complex in Paraguay which consists of 280,000 square meters of construction.

Mr. López Estrada was a graduate of the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. He was married to Ana María Pérez Bosch de López, with whom he raised three children.


Throughout his life, Mr. López Estrada distinguished himself by providing support to the most vulnerable Guatemalans, including through his charitable Foundations which focused on education, health, women’s empowerment, and transparency. Under the leadership of Mr. López Estrada and his family, Grupo Onyx and its affiliated Foundations have invested more than $50 million to date, positively impacting the lives of thousands of women and children in the most vulnerable parts of Guatemala.

Mr. López Estrada was the founder and former president of the Tigo Foundation (2009-2021), which under his leadership supported a variety of health, education, and financial inclusion initiatives in Guatemala, including in collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations (UN), and other public and private entities. While president of the Tigo Foundation, Mr. López Estrada refurbished 365 public schools with digital technology, building a school every 10 days for 10 years. The project benefitted more than 93,000 children throughout the country and contributed to reduced irregular migration flows by creating development opportunities in rural areas of the country.

Beginning in 2001, Mr. López Estrada also supported the UNETE Project “Save Children with Cancer” and helped raise more than US$170 million to support outpatient clinics, chemotherapy treatments, laboratory tests, and medications. The funds were also used for infrastructure construction and hospital equipment to ensure the proper functioning of the National Pediatric Oncology Unit (UNOP), the only specialized public center for the pediatric treatment of cancer in Guatemala.

Another project promoted by Mr. López Estrado was Tigo Plata, which consisted of micro-loans to low-income people in the rural areas which are a source of irregular migration to the U.S. These individuals had no access to bank loans to finance small businesses.

Mr. López Estrada was also the founder and president of the Mario López Estrada Foundation, which seeks to improve the quality of life for Guatemalans, create development opportunities for communities in the rural areas of the country, and stem flows of illegal migration. Since 2019, the Foundation has collaborated closely with U.S. and global government agencies and with non-profit organizations, implementing a number of projects to provide internet access and computer equipment, expand education and training opportunities, improve health and nutrition, and promote small business development.

The López family has also invested in U.S. higher education institutions, providing a grant to the University of Richmond to build infrastructure on the university campus.

Acknowledgments, Recognitions, and Awards

Throughout his business and professional life, Mr. López Estrada received numerous recognitions and awards, including:

  • In 2020, Maestro Cares Foundation awarded Mr. López Estrada their annual Social Responsibility Award, where he was honored alongside Chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen, Mr. David Beckham, and Mrs. Jada Pinkett-Smith.
  • In May 2017, Forbes magazine awarded Mr. López Estrada the Recognition of Business Excellence at the Third Forbes Central America Business Forum “The Geniuses of Disruption.”
  • In 2015, Universidad San Pablo of Guatemala awarded Mr. López Estrada a Honoris Causa Doctorate in Organizational Leadership.

Mr. López Estrada was retired from Grupo Onyx at the time of his death and the second generation of the family, who comprise the Board of Directors, had assumed management of the business group.