Only one in ten adults in Mexico have access to a formal credit card, according to Gabriela Estrada. That’s more than 70 million people that are not able to build a credit history. As cofounder and CFO of Vexi, Gabriela is on a mission to make credit accessible to Mexico’s underbanked population.
Originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, Gabriela was at the peak of her career at Citibanamex in Mexico City when she decided the corporate world wasn’t for her. She was the only female director as well as the youngest among her peers by 10 to 15 years. After leaving the bank, her friend convinced her to cofound Vexi with him, where she quickly fell in love with the power of impacting her community through fintech.
I sit down with Gabriela to talk about her experience as a woman in finance in Mexico and some of the challenges she now faces as a female founder when seeking investment. We also discuss why she decided to tackle financial inclusion and how Vexi is helping increase financial literacy in Mexico.
As an engineer, Gonzalo Ucar wanted to solve real-world problems. Originally from Spain, he decided to move to Latin America to become an entrepreneur and tap into the region’s opportunities. Today, he lives in Bogota and is co-founder of Hogaru, an on-demand cleaning company in Colombia.
Gonzalo and his partner recognized a huge pain point in Colombia’s cleaning industry: a deeply-rooted informal economy. Most cleaners in Colombia do not have a steady income or a social security number, which restricts their ability to realize their full economic potential. That’s why Hogaru’s cleaning service functions on a direct employment basis and avoids encouraging a gig economy.
In this episode, I sit down with Gonzalo to talk about how a Spaniard ended up in Colombia, Hogaru’s unique business model, and the lessons he’s learned as an engineer that he applies as an entrepreneur. We also discuss his major takeaways from participating in YCombinator and working with Endeavor.
Daniel Cossío decided he wanted to be involved in technology when he realized that businesses could produce a greater social impact than just an economic return. Today, he is Regional Manager for Latin America at Village Capital, a venture capital firm that supports impact-driven, seed-stage startups that focus on financial services, sustainability, and the future of work and education.
For ten years, Village Capital has supported over 1100 entrepreneurs from around the world, investing in more than 110 startups including Fintual, Vexi, and Siembro in Latin America. Daniel explains that Village Capital believes in supporting entrepreneurs that are often overlooked, helping them bring their big ideas from vision to scale.
In this episode, I sit down with Daniel to discuss how he got on the investor side of the table and became the lead in LatAm and how entrepreneurs can get involved with Village Capital. We also talk about a recent report released by Village Capital called Beyond Borders on how to successfully scale a startup in Latin America, among other industry trends in the region.
As the calendar turns toward April 15th, everyone in the US knows what’s coming: tax day. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has updated their systems, and there are dozens of tax management tech products, many people still have to file via a paper 1040 form that takes 6-8 weeks to process. Compare that to Chile, a less “developed” country according the most of the world, where paying taxes is as simple as logging on to the Servicios de Impuestos Internos (SII, Chilean IRS) website to see all your paychecks and spending from the year. On Chilean tax day, people can immediately if they’ll get a refund and how much it will be, which then shows up in your bank account automatically in 1-4 weeks.
Electronic tax filing systems are not unique to Chile. Colombia, Argentina, and Mexico allow people to pay taxes online or even via app, using a personal identification number like a Social Security number.
However, not all of Latin America is so progressive when the time comes to pay taxes. According to the World Bank, Brazil’s tax policy is one of the most complex in the world, so much so that doing taxes requires over 2000 hours per year, compared to 291 in Chile,311 in Argentina, and Colombia with just 239. Latin American countries also have Value Added Tax (IVA in Spanish) that you have to pay monthly included in their totals.
Across the region, government ministries are rapidly introducing new methods to simplify and speed up the taxpaying process. Here are some of the ways Latin American governments are working to improve the often-painful process of paying your taxes.