Note: Portal Finance recently closed a $200M deal with one of Latin America’s largest investment banks, BTG Pactual, to provide financing to small and medium businesses across Latin America. They were also winners of Magma Partners’ Latin America wide Fintech competition in 2016.
After growing up in the Bay Area, Diego Caicedo left Popayán, a small town in Colombia, at age fifteen to go to university in Bogota, then dropped out two semesters before finishing his degree in engineering. Why? He had a plan to build a massive, vertically-integrated coffee company that bridged the US and his native Colombia. Three years later, a strong La Niña year wiped out the coffee industry and he was back at square one.
Diego has never been one to give up after his first failure, though. In this episode, we talk about how he rebounded after closing his first business, how Diego became an entrepreneur in Chile’s mining industry, then how he realized the opportunities in Latin American fintech and started Portal Finance to help small businesses get liquidity when they need it. Diego is a lifelong entrepreneur with a lot of lessons to share with people just getting started, so check out this episode of Crossing Borders to learn more about how Diego does business across Colombia, Chile, and the United States.
The Colombian entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown quickly the past few years. While the two most prominent cities, Bogota and Medellin, are often in the spotlight for their startup successes like Rappi or Fitpal, the third and fourth largest cities, Cali and Barranquilla respectively, are edging their way into the ring as well. These two strategically-placed cities – Cali near the Pacific and Barranquilla on the Caribbean Coast – are drawing attention from investors and beginning to develop the infrastructure they need to start to compete alongside Bogota and Medellin.
Looking deeper into the Colombian startup scene, you’ll notice many differences between the cities. Here’s a look at what each has to offer and how they contribute to Colombia’s growing entrepreneurial spirit.
As the political and economic powerhouse that drives the Andean nation, Bogota is also the headquarters for many of Colombia’s fastest growing startups – as well as a significant hub for investment. Two of Colombia’s top three universities are located in Bogota, leading to a highly educated local talent pool for growing companies.
The growth of innovation in Bogota has primarily surged as a result of the Colombian government’s efforts to revitalize the country and the capital through the innovation economy. For example, in 2012, the National Government founded INNPulsa to promote business development in Colombia, with the goal of putting Colombia in the top three most innovative economies of Latin America. (more…)
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’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…)