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Latin America: Before and After Pandemic

The digital consumption changes across the main Latin American markets. Home to more than 600 million people, Latin America must be read through a particular lens from now on: before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Latin Americans needed to adapt and reinvent themselves during the last year, the increasing e-commerce penetration among consumers, sustained by the access to smartphones and the internet, as well as the undergoing fintech revolution in the region have definitely brought some changes regarding consumption behavior.

EBANX, fintech unicorn company: beyond borders 2020/2021 study

Latin America: Internet users 

As of January 2021, Brazil had approximately 160 million internet users in a total population is 210 million. That is more than Mexico and Argentina combined, the two ranking second and third respectively. Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic featured the largest number of internet users.

Source: Statista

On February 10, 2021 Bloomberg cited that Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. aims to invest about $1 billion from its Latin American private equity fund this year, as the Covid-19 pandemic helps to speed up growth from technology companies in the region. “We are looking at many opportunities right now, including agricultural tech firms,” the fund’s manager Paulo Passoni said. 

SoftBank in Latin America has also joined the blank-check company frenzy, with plans for a $250 million U.S. initial public offering of a special purpose acquisition company for the region. Passoni declined to comment on that transaction.

SoftBank Hungry to Invest in Latin America

As part of its $5 billion Latin America Fund launched in the first quarter of 2019, the Japanese giant doled out $1 billion in 2020, adding to $1.6 billion in 2019. It’s poured $100 million to $150 million into each of 17 companies and two venture capital firms so far, though the playing field is bigger: SoftBank has its sights on roughly 650 firms in the Latin America.

Next round will focus on artificial-intelligence projects as SoftBank Group Corp. will continue to invest in Latin America this year, focusing on industries including e-commerce, health care and fintech.

“Latin America is on the cusp of becoming one of the most important economic regions in the world, and we anticipate significant growth in the decades ahead, becoming one of the most important economic regions in the world.”

Masayo Son, former chairman and CEO of Japan’s SoftBank and member of board of directors

Most of Latin America’s Population Urbanized

With 80% of its population living in cities or towns Latin America is one of the world’s most urbanized regions. This is supported by excellent demographics. There are 163 million aged between 15 and 29, according to the OECD, making up a quarter of the Latin American population. There are 415 million mobile phone users, with 63% of Latin Americans having mobile internet access in 2020. And Latin Americans are addicted to social media – Brazil and Mexico have the 3rd and 5th most Facebook users in the world. 

Source: LatAm Investor

Latin America speeds towards Tech Friendly environment

The Internet roared to the scene in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and it is transforming the way Latin Americans interact, shop, bank, and spend their time. Disruptive digital technologies riding on the web — cloud-based services, e-commerce, 3D printing, Internet of Things, and so on — are empowering regional companies of all sizes to cut costs, improve customer service, and create brand new products and services. 

With a total GDP of $36 billion as of 2019, Nicaragua has some of the lowest salaries in the region. You can find entry level tech support roles earning $10,500 a year. Of course, this presents other challenges like security; the availability of English and some others, and it will vary depending on seniority and on how specialized the role you are looking for is. 

Costa Rica has a bigger economy (GDP $60 billion as of 2019) and is commonly recognized as a great destination for tech companies. That dates back to the decision Intel made in 1996 to open a manufacturing plant there. It is likely that entry level tech support roles can be found at a wage of $13,500 a year, when according to Glassdoor the average salary in the United States is $32,500 – representing a huge savings on expenses. 

The top universities to study computer science as an undergraduate in Latin America are located in Mexico. So, some names you should be looking at when reading resumes are: University of Guadalajara, Tec Milenio, Autonomous University of Sinaloa and the Technology Institute of Sonora.

That evolution is showing no signs of slowing thanks to an ever-expanding startup scene. Entrepreneurship has grown to become an important part of business not only in the city’s region of Antioquia, but nationally in Colombia.

Source: QS Global ranking

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Meet the Author

Peter Howard Wertheim & Dayse Abrantes - International Journalists
Peter Howard Wertheim & Dayse Abrantes - International Journalists

peter.howard@thebridge.social dayse.abrantes@thebridge.social International Journalists


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