80% of Venezuelans today depend on remittances to survive. Almost seven million people have left the country since the protests against the Maduro government started, creating a massive diaspora, almost all of whom send money home to family members trapped in the country.
Simon Chamorro was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, so he has seen this problem firsthand. He co-founded Valiu to make it easier to transfer money from Colombia to Venezuela by streamlining remittances using cryptocurrency.
In this episode of Crossing Borders, Simon explains how Valiu is using cryptocurrency to solve real-life problems, and how it has the potential to combat inflation in economies across Latin America. Now living in Colombia, Simon also discusses the important lessons he has learned working with four startups in the Colombian ecosystem, his own experience in starting a company, and where Valiu is headed next.
Check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about the current situation in Venezuela and how Valiu is helping streamline the remittance economy from across the Colombian border.
Not all global startups were founded in a Silicon Valley garage. OpenEnglish, an online platform for teaching English with over 500,000 students in 40 countries, started in a student apartment in Caracas, Venezuela in 2007. Open English started as in person English classes for Fortune 500 companies’ Latin American offices and morphed online so that it could reach a wider audience. While Andres Moreno understood the importance of speaking English for Latin Americans, he might not have guessed how far OpenEnglish would go.
Today, Andres Moreno is the CEO of OpenEducation, the parent company of OpenEnglish, Next U, and OpenEnglish Jr. and has raised over US$125M in venture capital from investors in the US and Latin America. Check out this episode to learn about Andres’ childhood moving around Latin America following his dad’s career, how he got started teaching English, why he picked Miami as a base, and how he has supported Latin American entrepreneurship as an investor, entrepreneur, and mentor.
Lately, Venezuela has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Whether it’s to cover hyperinflation, lack of food, or the plummeting economy, coverage of the former Latin American powerhouse is dire. As of 2017, Venezuela was home to 31M people, with the highest concentration in Caracas, the capital. A reported 2.5 million Venezuelans have fled and 90% of emigration has happened within the past 15 years as the economy has worsened.
In the past, Venezuela was a shining example of established democracy in South America, but due to political unrest, the economy has taken a turn for the worse. The 750% inflation rate (which is actually probably higher) has led to insurmountable shortages or basic goods and turmoil for citizens. It’s to the point where some restaurants ask you to pay your bill when you order your meal, because prices will be higher after dinner. The average wage for those lucky enough to have a job is now US$11 month, of which only US$5 is actual money. The balance is a food allowance, which makes it nearly imposible to survive.
You can find entrepreneurial, talented Venezuelans on Upwork and other platforms working abroad and earning money in dollars just to have enough money to survive. Others have turned to mining Bitcoin using subsidized electricity. Most of the most talented people have left the country. I’ve run into medical doctors driving Uber in Houston and Miami, lawyers and engineers running property companies in Chile and extremely talented people working across all professions all around the world. (more…)