Category: Latin America Startups and Investing

How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Helping Change the Way LatAm Does Business

Immigrants make up 15% of the US workforce, but they also make up one-quarter of the country’s entrepreneurs. Currently, up to 40% of new companies in the US have at least one immigrant founder. Immigrant-founded companies receive higher percentages of VC funding, according to this HBR report.

While similar statistics are not widely available for Latin America, there are some interesting numbers that stand out. For instance, there are close to one million US citizens residing in Mexico. The success of programs like Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18 speak to the positive impact that immigration can bring to a startup ecosystem. Living in a new country exposes potential entrepreneurs to new problems that they might have never faced back home, sparking ideas for new businesses. Immigrants may also bring unique skill sets and perspectives that allow them to create more innovative solutions to local issues. 

I’ve also noticed that living or studying abroad for a period can produce a similar effect. Many of the top entrepreneurs I’ve seen in Latin America left home to study in the US or UK, only to return to their home country, or another part of LatAm, with an entirely new perspective on their local problems.

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Susana García Robles, IDB Lab: Supporting Venture Capital and Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America, Ep 86

Susana García Robles has been working to help create the venture capital industry in Latin America since the 90s, when she launched an ambitious flagship program in Brazil to jumpstart the Latin American ecosystem. Since then, she has been an LP to dozens of funds across the region in her role as Chief Investment Officer for IDB Lab at the Interamerican Development Bank, a Washington DC based multilateral development bank focused on Latin America and the Carribbean.

In addition, Susana founded WeXchange, a platform run to empower Latin American and Caribbean female entrepreneurs and connect them to mentors and investors around the world. 

In this episode, I sat down with Susana to talk about her first experience with venture capital in the region, from working in Brazil to replicating similar programs across Latin America. She offers advice to potential LPs on what to look for in successful fund managers and founders. We also cover why and how she founded WeXchange and the importance of women entrepreneurs for Latin America’s growth. Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to hear more of Susana’s extensive experience investing in the region.

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Nathan Lustig on Mixergy: A VC’s Inside Look at Latin America, Ep 82

Mixergy’s Andrew Warner interviewed me on his Mixergy Podcast as part of his series of podcasts with Latin American entrepreneurs and investors. Be sure to check out his podcasts with Maria Paz Gillet, Devin Baptiste, David Lloyd, Santiago Zavala and more. We cover how I ended up in Latin America, why we started Magma Partners, my previous startups, Andes Property and more. I reposted our conversation in its entirety, so I hope you enjoy my conversation with Mixergy’s Andrew Warner.

From Mixergy:

Nathan Lustig is the co-founder of Magma Partners, an early-stage investment firm that supports the best Latin American entrepreneurs to launch and scale in the US.

Nathan literally wrote the book on what it’s like to do business in different parts of Latin America. It’s called “Crossing Borders: A Venture Capitalist’s Guide to Doing Business in Latin America.”

I wish I had read it before I flew to Mexico City to do my first set of interviews because he really explains how the world south of the American border operates when it comes to startups and business.

An Overview of Edtech in Latin America

Global investments in education technology, commonly known as edtech, will reach $252 billion by 2020. In fact, the global e-learning market is growing over 14% annually, and this growth rate is likely to continue.

In Latin America, government focus on education increased significantly over the last two decades. As a result, Latin America is now the fourth largest edtech market in the world – behind North America, Western Europe, and Asia in terms of revenue – with expectations for the e-learning market to generate revenues of over $3 billion by 2023.

According to UNESCO, more than 12 million adults in 20 Latin American countries are participating in some form of online education. This is not just online courses; millions of people are now accessing written materials, webinars, podcasts, collaborative software, and more.

What’s driving edtech opportunities in Latin America?

The short answer is surging levels of mobile and Internet access.

Latin America is a world leader in mobile adoption, with more than 415 million out of approximately 690 million people connected to a mobile network. Approximately 60% of all mobile connections in Latin America are smartphones and there are predictions that by 2020, 63% of Latin America’s population will have access to the mobile Internet. This rapid growth is translating into endless opportunities for the edtech sector, even in the most rural and remote areas.

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