Colombia has come a long way as a country and as a place to do business. The sensationalized version of Colombia that Narcos depicts is no longer accurate, though the reputation lives on.
Colombia’s history is long and complicated, filled with violent groups trying to control the country’s lucrative drug trade. But there’s so much more to Colombia than just drugs. 2017’s historic peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC, the largest guerrilla group, is a potential inflection point in Colombia’s history. And if I had to bet on a single Latin American country for the next 10-15 years, Colombia would be my pick.
Though many think it’s coffee, Colombia’s largest export is actually petroleum, which makes up over a third of the country’s exports, followed by coal, coffee, cut flowers, and gold. Coffee, however, was responsible for pushing Colombia toward a manufacturing based economy. After the War of a Thousand Days, which ended in 1902, Colombia’s coffee boom pushed the country to seek better transportation and manufacturing mechanisms.
Coffee production consistently grew in the 20th century, employing more than 500,000 families. While the government managed Colombia’s economy conservatively, the the political atmosphere turned increasingly unstable, corrupt and violent from the drug trade.
In 1991 the country adopted a new constitution. The motive for this wasn’t necessarily economic, but rather political, in order to make peace and bring drug lords to justice. Colombia remained relatively stable economically until the late 1990s when fiscal deficits cause a higher public debt which resulted in the country’s first economic recession in over 60 years. But by the early 2000s, the economy began to recover, due to high petroleum prices and stable coffee prices. (more…)
I recently wrote a column in TechCrunch called A new era in Latin American startup investing where I talked about how things have changed since I first moved to Chile in 2010 as part of the pilot round of Startup Chile.
Some of the pioneering investors and entrepreneurs have started to be successful, paving the way for the next generation of startups. Other founders who tried and failed in the early 2010s have learned their lessons and are starting second rounds of companies. The ecosystem is much more developed, including startup specific attorneys and more experienced venture investors. From the link:
Startups in Latin America are using creative solutions to address not just local but also global problems. For investors outside the region, the prospect of working with these startups can appear attractive, yet complicated. Investing in early-stage startups in Latin America can present challenges; however, despite the challenges, time and time again I’ve found it can be well worth the effort.
When I first came to Santiago, Chile in 2010 as part of the pilot round of Start-Up Chile, there was hardly any talk of startups. Most people didn’t even know what startups were. Within nine months of returning to the U.S., the company I co-founded was acquired. So I decided to go back to Chile to look for more opportunities in this emerging market.
Over the next couple of years, I taught entrepreneurship in Chile, mentored local entrepreneurs and eventually started investing in Latin American companies myself. I’ve now invested in more than 30 early-stage companies in Latin America, and I firmly believe the time to help early-stage startups in Latin America has never been better. Here’s why.
Continue reading A New Era for Startup Investing In Latin America on TechCrunch.
Photo credit: Alessandro Pautasso
I’m excited to announce that Portal Finance is the winner of our FinTech competition and is now part of the Magma Partners portfolio. Portal Finance stood out from of the multitude of companies that applied from all over Latin America because of founders Diego Caicedo, Felipe Puntarelli and Nicholas Bohorquez’s deep experience in the market and the ability to translate it into a top notch product with clients in multiple countries that can expand worldwide. (more…)
This post is the third in a series about Latin American venture capital ecosystems. Read the post on the Chilean Venture Capital, Peru Venture Capital, Highlighting Latin American Startups. Hopefully it’s helpful. Thanks to Monica Avila from Magma and Andres Barreto from Social Atom for reviewing drafts of this post and improving it.
Social Atom Ventures – A $30m investment fund with offices in Medellin and Bogota. They invest into early stage companies that have their technology team in Latin America, but whose target market is the US. We’ve done two co-investments with them.
Torrenegra Labs – Accelerator and early stage investor based in Bogota. 20 investments. 5 exits.
Magma Partners – Monica Avila is our lead in Colombia. We plan to invest in 1-2 companies per year. Additional presence in Chile, Mexico, USA.
Axon – Late stage capital. Six investments.