The Future of Entrepreneurship in Latin America

Whether you live in Latin America or on the other side of the world, you’ll no doubt know about the region’s volatile economy, with 600 million citizens competing for employment and business.

Entrepreneurship is commonplace in Latin America, with opportunities and changing attitudes making it one of the world’s most exciting and lucrative markets. Below, we take a closer look.

Changing attitudes to entrepreneurship

Over the past ten years, entrepreneurship has become a ‘trend’ in Latin America. Young people are motivated by the opportunity of creating their own jobs and making their own living, with 60 per cent of Latin American employees working for a company with five or fewer employees.

As entrepreneurship becomes more attractive, and success stories becoming more common thanks to international funding and investments, more people are choosing to start their own businesses rather than follow traditional Western norms and ‘work their way up’ in corporations. Some predict this is because young people are less willing to wait to be hired, and instead want to experience the highs and lows of running their own business; even if they’re not successful.

Because of social inequality and economic volatility, young Latin Americans are happy to take risks and use them as part of their learning process. The results of this attitude, of course, are mixed, but no successful entrepreneur would be where they are without taking risks and experimenting, so this way of thinking must be respected and encouraged for new opportunities to be created.

New opportunities for partnerships

As Latin Americans continue to innovate in the world of travel, education and entertainment, we are beginning to see more partnerships with territories around the world, particularly with the United States and with China. There has been a significant rise in the number of ‘multilatinas’ – that is, Latin American companies that have become multinational after outgrowing their home markets – but partnerships are no doubt the way forward for continued growth and development.

Jampp, for example, a company that allows businesses to boost their mobile sales, was founded in Argentina, but now has offices around the world thanks to more than $7 million in funding. Becoming a leader in online market research, the company is a true Latin American success story, and their commitment to their growth and service will no doubt serve as an inspiration to many other entrepreneurs. On their website, the company stays true to its Latin American roots, with a tagline of: “we take ownership and stand by our results. We get things done and never give up”. This attitude has no doubt contributed to their worldwide success.

Localised innovations

Whilst the United States and Silicon Valley have no doubt transformed the way the world lives their lives, whether that be through social media or other digital platforms, Latin American entrepreneurs are localising such technologies and bringing new innovations to the market. You only have to look at the ridesharing market to see a clear example; just as Uber has upped the ante and announced plans to market their services further in Latin America, homegrown brands have adapted the Uber model and created their own alternatives, focusing on things that really matter to Latin Americans. From greater transparency to low-cost travel, entrepreneurs in Brazil and Mexico have taken the idea of Uber and converted it into a business that works for locals.

Indeed, Brazilian-based 99, a Latin American alternative to Uber, is available in more than 300 Brazilian cities, with plans to expand into other territories in the coming years. SoftBank was quick to invest in the application, pouring in more than $100 million. However, just months later, China’s Didi Chuxing bought the company, no doubt after seeing just how powerful a Latin American-based ride-hailing app could be.

Of course, ridesharing is just one example of Latin American innovations. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and cheaper hardware making computing more accessible to everyone, we’ll no doubt see further innovations in the Latin American space. After all, products designed for a local audience always perform favourably when compared to services from overseas.

New possibilities in education

One of the biggest reason for the technological boom in Latin America is because of the growth in mobile broadband. Indeed, mobile internet users in Latin America is set to grow 50% by 2020, meaning more people will be able to take advantage of new innovations in mobility and security.

Another significant benefit will be to education, as more young people and our next generation of entrepreneurs hone their craft through their smartphones and tablet devices, whether that be through YouTube tutorials, online courses or taking their classes online. When you pair that with more accessible capital funding through online banking services, it’s hard to deny that mobile broadband has served as one of Latin America’s biggest disruptors and forces for change.

Latin America has seen a huge increase in educational startups, with online learning resources and technologies changing livelihoods for millions of people. Just take a look at MiríadaX, an online training provider that now offers more than 300 courses from 90 university partners around the world. Rather than having to take courses tailored to a North American audience, Latin Americans can now learn in Spanish or Portuguese, boosting their own prospects without having to rely on government-lead training academies and higher education establishments.

What it means for you

Whether you’re based in Latin America or you’re an entrepreneur that wants to invest in the region, there’s no denying the opportunities are huge. According to market leading startup Biz Latin Hub, more and more businesses are investing in Latin America and spending money on commercial representation because they understand the potential of countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, all of which are seeing economic growth.

Remember, if you want to enter the market, you should conduct your own research and consider partnering with a local business. We wish you the best of luck with your business!

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Emmy Skylar

About the Author: Emmy Skylar

Emmy Skylar started working for Debate Report in 2017. Emmy grew up in a small town in northern Manitoba. But moved to Ontario for university. Before joining Debate Report, Emmy briefly worked as a freelance journalist for CBC News.  She covers politics and the economy.

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