Ep 30 Amanda Jacobson, Solving Problems in Education, Agriculture, and Fintech in Latin America

Being able to open a bank account, exchange currency, open a credit card or have access to business credit in something that we take for granted in the United States. I know I did before moving to Latin America.

In the US, most people can easily open bank accounts, apply for loans, and transfer money digitally. But that’s not the case for the bottom 80% of income earners in much of Latin America. It took me 3 years to get a bank in Chile to allow me to open a business account when all I wanted to

Village Capital is a global VC firm with offices in Mexico City that finds, trains, and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems, like the Fintech problems I just mentioned. VilCap works to build communities around entrepreneurs and their ventures to improve opportunities for growth and success. In this conversation, I’m speaking with Amanda Jacobson, Regional Manager for Latin America for the Village Capital team. She explains how VC is changing the way people live and work in Latin America and how Fintech in Latin America is one of the biggest areas of focus for them right now.

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Doing Business in the Caribbean: An Overview of Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti

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Doing Business in the Caribbean

Belize, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti are small countries that have varying degrees of development, openness, but all four are filled with entrepreneurial people. Read on to find out what it’s like to do business in each of these countries, as well as startups pushing their way through to gain traction and get out of their local market.

Doing Business in Belize

This small tropical country (population of 360k) nestled under Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula has long been a top tourist destination but lags behind the rest of the region in entrepreneurship.

The GDP is US$1.76B, and there is currently only one coworking space located in Belize City, Alliance Business Centres, and monthly salaries remain low at around US$800 per month, though the cost of living is relatively higher in Belize than in neighboring countries. Belize’s official language is English, making it simple for those from the United States to work there without having to learn another language.

Local startups such as Boarding Path, the “Google Maps” for inside airports, and Gone Green Superfoods, a manufacturer and importer of the most nutrient-dense superfoods available, target foreign markets – in line with Belize’s fame as a tourism destination – but are slowly gaining traction worldwide. Compared neighboring Costa Rica and Panama, Belize’s ecosystem is much smaller and there are fewer tech startups, but it could be an interesting middle ground, as it’s safer than countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Continue reading…

Ep 29 Brenna Loury, Working Remotely Across Borders

In this episode, I reconnected with my friend Brenna Loury, one of the original founding team members of Start-Up Chile, and the current head of marketing and PR at Doist to talk about her experience of learning a new job in a new country, the challenges and rewards of working across borders, and how she helped bootstrap a tech startup that now has more than 13,000,000 users worldwide.   

Brenna shares how her company now manages more than 50 employees in 20 countries, all of them working 100% remotely. She offers tips on how to best position your company to start working remotely, mistakes startups should avoid when pitching ideas or raising funds and a formula for hiring top-notch employees. The conversation is packed with useful information and inspiring stories you don’t want to miss!

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Landlocked Bolivia Pushes to Create a Startup Ecosystem

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Bolivia, named after Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan leader who played a major role in Bolivia’s independence from Spain, is wedged between Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Bolivia is an amazing country of contrasts with unmatched deposits of silver, tin, zinc, natural gas, and enough lithium to power all of our modern devices for centuries, With all that, Bolivia should be a wealthy country. But is one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, only slightly better off than Haiti.

Since its “discovery” by the Spanish in the 1500s until today, Bolivia has historically been on the short end of the stick in deals and wars with Spain, Britain, the United States, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina, all in partnership with its small upper class that has historically exploited its natural resources a labor.

Bolivia is known for natural beauty and underdevelopment compared to its neighbors. From the world’s largest salt in the southwest, Salar de Uyuni, where visitors can find pink flamingos in the 11,000 sq-km landscape, to rainforest, El Camino de La Muerte and other natural wonders, Bolivia is an incredibly interesting country. Continue reading…