Most dialogues about Latin America’s startup ecosystem overlook Bolivia. The landlocked 11-million person country has yet to develop a thriving homegrown tech scene, but it shows tremendous potential for growth. It often just takes one or two success stories to catalyze the whole industry. Carlos Jordan, founder of UltraCasas and UltraCreditos, might be just the entrepreneur Bolivia needs. After raising the biggest round in Bolivian history from international investors, Carlos became one of the most influential actors in Bolivia’s nascent tech ecosystem. He takes this responsibility seriously, reserving a fierce optimism for Bolivia’s development potential.
I sat down with Carlos on this episode of Crossing Borders to discuss Bolivia’s nascent entrepreneurial ecosystem, Carlos’ role in building the industry, the inflection point for his business, UltraCasas, and what it was like to raise funding from abroad. We also talk about doing business in Bolivia and the future of its tech ecosystem. Carlos is the first Bolivian entrepreneur to join me on Crossing Borders, so check out this episode to learn more about one of Latin America’s youngest tech economies.
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. (more…)