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.

People like to talk. The more you let them the more you build relationships.

Amanda Jacobson moved to Mexico City alone. She had never been there before and had very little knowledge about the specifics of what it would take to set up and staff Village Capital’s Latin American office. But she was committed to learning quickly and asking for help as she needed it, so she was confident she could succeed.

One of the things she discovered is that people love to talk about the things they know. So she asked lots of questions and let people talk. Not only did she get the education she needed, she also built great connections that would serve her long term.

The entrepreneurs who live where the money is are not the only ones with great ideas.

One of the many reasons Amanda Jacobson loves what Village Capital is doing in Latin America is that the company actively seeks out entrepreneurs to fund. The reason they do so is simple: they know that it’s not possible that every entrepreneur with world-changing ideas lives in a place where capital is easy to come by.

That’s why the VC team goes looking for them – and what they find is brilliant people with great ideas that can solve the problems in energy, agriculture, education, and fintech in Latin America. Find out how Village Capital does it, the kinds of companies they are most interested in building, and why Amanda is committed to helping communities through venture capital.

New models of investing will arise in Latin America.

It’s often a mistake to attempt to apply a financial or business model from the United States to businesses and economies in other parts of the world. The local regulations and ways of doing things simply don’t line up the same, so it can be very frustrating and sometimes impossible to do.

That’s why Amanda Jacobson believes new models of investing that are not the typical VC approach will arise in Latin America over time. Creative financing and investing are what will enable the funding of culture-changing companies, and Amanda is excited to be a part of the solution.

The entrepreneurs with the greatest self-awareness are the most successful.

When I asked Amanda for her advice to entrepreneurs who are seeking to build a company in Latin America she said those with the greatest amount of self-awareness are usually the founders and leaders who succeed. She says one of the reasons it’s so important is because leaders have to be able to see their own weak spots as well as those in their company. When they can, they are able to come up with a plan that will assure investors that they will effectively address those areas.

This is a great conversation with a self-taught, savvy venture capitalist who’s making a huge difference through VC funding in Mexico City. I hope you’ll take the time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:05] Village Capital’s support of Latin American companies that are solving problems in the region.
  • [5:09] How Amanda wound up in Mexico City doing investing in Latin America.
  • [10:01] Amanda’s advice to those starting out: listen and observe.
  • [13:22] How friends and family reacted as Amanda took the harder road.
  • [16:47] Amanda’s experience when she first arrived in Mexico City.
  • [24:20] Why fintech is one of the best opportunities in Latin America.
  • [34:40] Why VC is expanding outside Mexico.
  • [39:08] Advice to investors about supporting companies in Latin America.
  • [45:16] Advice to entrepreneur who are starting to raise money.

Resources & People Mentioned

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