The Latin American startup scene was off the venture capital grid for a long time, but no longer. Latin America has emerged to become one of the most attractive startup markets in the world; Latin American entrepreneurs are disrupting all the leading economic sectors, including e-commerce, agriculture, insurance and fin-tech.
The Latin American Startup Market Gets Noticed Things began to change in 2011, when Welcu, a Chilean startup, and Wideo, a startup out of Argentina, became the first to garner the support of 500 Startups, one of the top three accelerators in the United States. By 2015, all three of the top US accelerators were investing in Latin America.
From just a handful, venture investment in Latin America has grown to hundreds. 500 Startup launched an accelerator in Mexico City. This year, 500 Startups LAM received 1,420 applications for its 2019 accelerator program. Eleven applications were accepted. The accelerator has invested in more than 150 companies.
Chile Was Ahead of the Curve Before foreign investors decided to check out what was going on in Latin America, the Chilean government created its own accelerator program, which it launched in 2010. The government had two main goals: (1) position Chile as the Latin American hub for technology innovation and (2) transform the Chilean mind-set toward entrepreneurship. Start-Up Chile supports tech entrepreneurs and has become one of the largest accelerator programs in the world. Start-Up Chile has received more than 1600 startups during the past seven years.
This is not the first time Chile has distinguished itself on the international level. It is the only member of the OCED (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in Latin America. Our stable economy combined with regulatory policies that reward entrepreneurship has created a healthy startup environment. I became an investor in startups a long time ago. One of my favorites is Chilean Mesa, a restaurant reservation app launched in 2017. Users can book their reservation through the app and get as much as a 50% discount on their food order.
Latin America Has Become One of the Most Important Regions in the World Investment analysts say 2018 seems to have been the pivotal year, as global investors woke up to the reality of a flourishing South American startup market. Even political tensions and economic instability in countries, such as Venezuela, did not dampen their enthusiasm.
SoftBank launched a $2B investment fund to support tech startups in Latin America. They will focus on tech startups in Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Brazil and Chile. When announcing the initiative, SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son, said “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.”
Mobile-Based Startups Have the Best Potential for Success The startups with the greatest potential for success are those that capitalize on the realities of Latin America’s significant unbanked population and the high percentage of mobile phone penetration. This is what made Mesa so successful. Mobile subscriber penetration is 65% in Latin America, greater than the rest of the developed world, other than North America and Europe.
These realities created a fertile environment for mobile-based startups, such as Despegar.com an Argentinian version of Expedia. Despegar.com was founded in 1999, when no one was paying much attention to the startup scene in Latin America. Its market value today is more than £1 billion.
Startup MercadoLibre is another success story. Founded in Argentina, the platform works like Alibaba or Amazon. Even Uber has met its rival in the Latin American market—Brazil 99 has successfully taken market share from the well-known app.
I believe the potential for startups in Latin America is unlimited, particularly here in Chile and I look forward to staying involved as an investor in this growing marketplace.
Yoga Has Made Me a Better CEO 06/06/19
I’m the owner and CEO of Stellar Mining Peru, Ltd. My corporation is made up of a complex web of interlocking pieces: innovation and technology development, mining and extraction, processing, manufacturing and delivery. Woven throughout, is my staff, customers and stakeholders. As CEO, I must hold all the pieces and unify them into the whole that is my corporation.
Yoga is all about connecting your mind with your body. However, your body and mind are also made up of a complex web of pieces. Through Yoga, you learn to be aware of all the pieces, to connect them, and bring them to a unified whole. This is the skill you need to unify the puzzle pieces of your corporation.
Yoga Gives You Important Tools for Business Success Yoga has many benefits. It is not a physical sport like running or tennis, but you will be surprised how strong your body will become once you have committed to a regular Yoga practice. The skills you will gain from Yoga are the very same skills you need to be successful as a corporate leader.
Here are just a few of the ways Yoga will positively impact your business performance:
Determination A landmark study by Angela Duckworth proved that the one factor that caused a person to be successful, no matter their lane, was something she called “grit.” It means you never let go of your goal, regardless of what happens.
When you first begin your yoga practice you are not going to be folding up into a pretzel or flawlessly standing on your head. You might even feel embarrassed. Your goal is to become a Yogi and inherit all the benefits of the practice. You need grit to stick with it, to not be deterred when you fall over, fail to reach the floor, run out of breath or collapse.
Yoga Builds Flexibility When you think of Yoga, you are probably focused on physical flexibility. But that would be only one half of the practice. The flexibility you develop through your yoga practice also extends to your mind. As you train your body to be more flexible through the asanas, you train your mind to be more flexible so that you can bend, rather than break, before the myriad of stressors that enter your day.
A typical business day is filled with challenges, some routine and many unplanned. If you are an entrepreneur, you can expect failure on some level. A product that doesn’t take off. Supply problems that prevent you from delivering on time, harming your new and fragile reputation. This is when you need to pivot, be flexible like a reed in the wind, and continue forward. The “failure” is merely a learning experience, not the end of the road.
Building a Quiet Space in the Mind for Creativity Yoga challenges us to overcome our concept of limits to what we can do. This is what you need when running or starting a business. What I have gained from my Yoga practice has enabled me to inspire my teams to see no limits or barriers to creativity. Yoga also teaches you to create a quiet space in your mind even during moments filled with crises. By being able to stay focused, to innovate and create, you can overcome those challenges. I feel great after my yoga session. My mind is clear, my spirit is buoyant, I am recharged and ready to face the day. When I show up at work in high spirits, beaming positivity and a good attitude, I inspire and improve the mood of everyone who comes in contact with me. We all succeed.
Reducing the Carbon Footprint with Bio-diesels 31/05/19
For more than two decades, I have been involved in the mining industry. Throughout my career I have worked hard to develop cutting edge, eco-friendly technologies that will leave the smallest footprint possible on our precious lands. I am extremely proud to have been a part of the team that constructed the largest biodiesel refinery on the western coast of South America. For me, this project in my home country Peru, was one of the best examples of my efforts to protect our environment.
Bio-fuels and Bio-diesel Bio-fuels are produced from organic matter, also known as biomass. This includes plant materials, animal waste, fishery products, food service by-products, and certain agricultural products. Around 10% of global energy use is produced from bio-fuels, particularly in developing countries, where charcoal and animal dung provide an energy source for cooking and heating.
There are two categories of bio-fuels, primary and secondary:
Primary bio-fuels, such as wood chips and pellets, are organic matter that is used in its unprocessed form. It is appropriate only for heating, cooking or as an alternative electricity source.
Secondary bio-fuels result from the processing of biomass. This would include liquid bio-fuels such as bio-diesel and ethanol, which are suitable for fueling vehicles and powering industrial plants. Liquid bio-fuels such as ethanol are highly popular around the world as a clean energy source.
Bio-diesel is produced from animal fats and vegetable oils. It is a viable and clean substitute for fossil-fuel diesel. Outside of the United States, the most popular oils for developing bio-diesel are palm oil, rapeseed oil and sunflower oil. We are using palm oil to create bio-diesel.
Reducing the Carbon Footprint Bio-diesels are biodegradable and are a major player in the effort to reduce airborne pollutants. The fuel can be used in a diesel engine without any modifications. However, more typically, bio-diesels are blended with petroleum.
Bio-fuels can help countries develop energy security and reduce their carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. Investing in bio-fuels, which are carbon neutral, is a key component of Peru’s climate change strategies and economic development initiatives.
Bio-diesel Production Requires a Thoughtful Strategy Bio-diesel production must be a component of a comprehensive environmental and economic security strategic plan. Careful thought is required to ensure an equal balance of both priorities. In some developing nations, the potential bio-fuels offer for energy independence has led to an emphasis on farming only crops for bio-fuel production. Public and private strategists must keep in mind the needs of the citizenry for food security and a balanced, nutritious diet.
Peru Leads the South American Continent Last April 2018, Peru passed the “Law for Climate Change,” becoming the first country in South America to comprehensively address climate change. Upon its passage, Peru’s President Vizcarra noted that the law will greatly reduce Peru’s vulnerability to climate change.
Bio-diesel production has joined solar panel and wind energy development among the clean energy technologies being funded by public and private sector partnerships. I am very happy to be a part of this effort.
Economic Advantages of Bio-diesels Bio-fuels development is particularly beneficial for rural communities. The new agro-processing facilities provide employment and opportunities for small business development.
The benefits of bio-diesel facilities, such as the one we constructed in Peru, extend beyond carbon-neutral objectives. Bio-diesel developed from crops, such as palm trees, facilitate restoration of degraded lands. Our production of crude palm oil has resulted in growing employment numbers and a stronger agriculture industry.
A Vegan Lifestyle is Healthy for Your Mind, Body and Spirit 24/05/19
Staying healthy is key to every aspect of your life. A vegan lifestyle is one way to get there. When we are healthy, we feel better. We have more mental, physical and emotional strength. With clarity of mind and a positive outlook on life we can be successful, no matter what we are doing.
When you are in poor health, you lose the drive to pursue your life goals. You may even suffer a loss of income. Feeling ill can also make you cranky, creating a secondary reality of isolation, frustration and depression. Staying healthy must be at the top of your list of priorities.
What’s the Difference Between Vegetarian and Vegan? Knowing the difference between a vegetarian and vegan is very important if you intend to have guests for dinner or entertain clients. They are not the same. And even within vegetarianism there are levels. Both vegetarians and vegans avoid meat. But vegans do not eat any product that comes from animals, including dairy and eggs. Vegetarians typically will eat dairy products, and a few will eat fish.
A vegan diet provides us with more antioxidants and fiber. By cutting out the meat, more of these important vitamins and minerals enter our body and are absorbed into the bloodstream. Several studies have investigated the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Their findings include:
Vegan diets appear to be richer in vitamins A, C and E, as well as in folate, potassium and magnesium.
A vegan diet can reduce pain from arthritis.
Certain cancers can be mitigated by keeping a vegan diet. In fact, the World Health Organization advises that the best cancer prevention strategy is being careful about what we eat.
Athletes Have Gone Vegan Too Many of the world’s top athletes have chosen a vegan lifestyle. With ample evidence of its positive effect on reducing cholesterol, improving concentration and enabling better sleep, the diet makes perfect sense for athletes who need to perform at the top of their level.
Business Insider featured several high-performing athletes and the reasons they chose a vegan diet. Venus Williams, for instance a champion tennis player switched to a vegan diet when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. She says she has found her vegan diet helps her on the court. Plus, she generally feels better knowing that she is doing the best thing for her health.
Successful Corporate Execs Operate at Peak Performance I chose a vegan lifestyle for all the above reasons. Juggling multiple priorities requires strategic focus and a creative mind. I found that when I switched to a vegan diet, I rested better at night. My batteries were fully charged for the next day of meetings with staff, suppliers, and stakeholders. My body began to get more of the minerals and vitamins it needed which improved my concentration. Being healthy means not only an increase in productivity, but more energy for my family and outside interests.
Meditate for Success 15/05/19
May 15, 2019 is World Meditation Day. It’s a great day to begin a daily meditation practice. I have found meditation to be beneficial not only to my business success, but also to my relationship with my family and the world around me.
Meditation is Mainstream The topic of meditation tends to conjure up images of new age geeks sitting in lotus position, chanting. It can be like that, but meditation has become much more mainstream. The most popular form of meditation today is mindfulness meditation which can be done sitting, standing, walking, or while eating.
According to US federal estimates, more than 18 million Americans meditate every day. A global count has been more difficult to acquire, with estimates ranging from 200 to 500 million meditators. But these are not reliable figures.
Global Leaders Believe in the Power of Meditation Tony Robbins, a philanthropist and entrepreneur who serves as Chair of a holding company comprised of 50 businesses earning more than $6 billion annually, is a regular meditator. He says meditation helps you overcome those nagging feelings of doubt. As entrepreneurs we cannot operate in the space of doubt. We must have a target and the grit to get us there, no matter what happens along the way.
In Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, there is a profound quote about the importance of meditation. Jobs said that if you sit quietly and observe, you will see a constant flow of thoughts running through your mind. By meditating, you can control those thoughts and quiet the mind. Once you achieve this, you enter the place of intuition. In this state, you truly connect with what is happening around you.
Mindfulness Meditation Mindfulness meditation is the form of meditation used by most corporate and thought leaders today. It focuses on coming to a place of quiet in the mind and focusing on a single point. It is not about emptying the mind but learning how to control and focus your thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation helps you overcome negative thinking and thereby constrain your emotions which is especially important in my environment. From moment to moment, anything can go off course from what I have planned for the day.
My daily schedule is filled with competing priorities: production, marketing, messaging, customer satisfaction, revenue, and of course my stakeholders. Meditation has helped me achieve the quiet I need to intuitively understand what needs to be done to address each priority of the day. My daily mindfulness meditation practice has helped me reach my goals of being constantly aware of my impact on those around me.
Start Slowly and Build If you’re not in the habit of meditating, then this is a good time to start. The important thing is to be patient. It’s like exercising. If you decide to jump up and go for a 10k run and you’ve not been running, you may finish but you won’t be able to move much the next day. Training your mind to be still and to focus also takes time. It’s best to begin with short intervals at a designated time every day. Make it a habit. Gradually you will build “meditative muscle” in the mind and will be able to quiet your thoughts for longer periods of time. Your meditation practice will transform your life.
Peru’s Robust Mining Economy is Closing the Gap for Rural Peruvians 25/10/18
Peru is the mining capital of the world, with impressive investment dollars to prove it. These investments translate into opportunities for Peru to increase its employment base, build a robust economy and improve the lives of its citizens.
A healthy national economy means that the government has more assets with which it can invest in healthcare, housing, education and infrastructure. A robust mining economy has been key to Peru’s successful climb out of poverty and to a seat among the world’s developed nations.
Mining Investments Continue to Grow Last September, government officials held a press conference to share the good news related to mining investments. Francisco Ismodes, Minister of Energy and Mines announced that Peru is currently home to 49 mining projects, holding a combined worth of $58 billion. And this represents only those mining projects already on the ground and operating. Minister Ismodes said that more projects are in the stage of exploration.
Strategies to lure companies to invest in mining in Peru is of paramount importance to Peruvian policymakers, as they look to mining as a way to close the gap for rural residents. Facilitating a vigorous mining economy has become an important component of the country’s strategic plan.
Globally, Peru is ranked 5th in terms of mining investments. The country succeeded in attracting 7% of the world’s exploration budget, which translates into a $524 million infusion of economic benefits for the country. Minister Ismodes predicts continued growth, reaching 20 billion in mining investments and prospecting by 2022.
Balancing the Challenges of a Successful Mining Industry Minister Ismodes told attendees at the press conference that the government is mindful of the challenge of developing mining as an economic engine while also protecting Peru’s fragile environment. Policymakers and stakeholders are tasked with developing protective parameters that allow for Peru’s environment and society to prosper.
Peru is Serious about Preventing Corruption In addition to significant annual growth, Peru’s mining industry proves that the industry does not have to be plagued by corruption or lead to economic stagnation. In fact, getting serious about corruption, Peru joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in 2010, the first country in the Americas to do so. The Initiative commits mining companies to publicize all tax and royalty payments they make to the government.
Mining has Always Been an Economic Anchor For more than 14 years, Peru has been making a slow climb to become an economic leader among the developing nations. Mining has been one of the primary engines driving its success.
Peru survived a bump in the road during the years 2014 to 2017, as its economic growth slowed considerably due to a falloff in commodities prices. However, because the government had established a strong economic foundation during previous years, it was able to weather the decline in fiscal revenues without a corresponding reduction in national spending.
Earlier investments in mining paid off during this period too. Projects that were developed during the previous years of prosperity, came to maturity and dumped more revenues into the national economy.
Looking Beyond Workers As Peru’s mining sector gained traction company executives began to look beyond the basics of building production facilities and hiring employees. In addition to adopting policies designed to foster natural resource protection, community development initiatives began to work their way into corporate strategic plans.
Neighborhood improvement efforts began in an organic way. Mines opened, attracting a small migration of Peruvians from the surrounding area. This necessitated at least minimum housing and basic facilities.
But mining companies wanted to do more for the growing communities that mining operations were anchoring. Peruvian mining executives began to see a role for themselves as change agents in the overall social movement, reaching out to local stakeholders and municipalities to join the effort.
New collaborations between mining companies, local government officials and community leaders gave birth to important community development projects that would address the full package of issues facing local and regional populations. Projects included addressing chronic childhood malnutrition, improving education achievement, enhancing access to healthcare, and upgrading local infrastructure. Special initiatives have been developed that focus on women to help them gain the skills they need to become entrepreneurs.
Public-Private Sector Initiatives are Working Policymakers have been able to translate mining revenues into significant improvements in delivery of services, especially for Peru’s poorer populations. According to an article in Harvard Review of Latin America published in 2014, Peru reduced by 50 percent the total number of Peruvians living in poverty. The Inter-American Development Bank reported that more than half of the Peruvian population had joined the middle class. With strong leadership at the top of the Peruvian government combined with a genuine commitment on the part of mining industry leaders, we can expect that more Peruvians will be able to join the mainstream of society.
Peru Takes the Lead on Climate Change 11/10/2018
Peru became the first country in South America to pass a comprehensive law to address climate change. The “Law for Climate Change” was approved by the Peruvian legislature in mid-March and signed by the President on April 17, 2018.
The Law’s passage signals the government’s commitment to a sustainable future for the Peruvian people. We now have a framework with which to seriously implement policies that will reduce the impacts of global warming across the Peruvian environment.
Peru’s Law for Climate Change establishes a set of requirements that follow the 17 objectives of the United Nations Climate Change Agreement. The Ministry of the Environment is tasked with the job of developing and implementing new regulations and special projects. Ministry staff is responsible for assessing progress and outcomes.
Former Minister of the Environment Esla Galarza, in an interview with ExitosasNoticias, expressed considerable optimism over the new law, noting that “a country which is environmentally responsible is a country that grows, that has a vision of the future.”
A Legacy for the Future
Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said there is no denying that negative changes are occurring throughout the world due to climate change. “We must be responsible to leave a legacy to our children and the future generations of Peru.”
According to President Vizcarra, the Law for Climate Change will facilitate increased public spending on research and development of clean technologies, public awareness campaigns, and new partnerships between the private and public sector focused on environmental issues.
President Vizcarra observed that the Law will “reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change and take advantage of growth opportunities with lower carbon emissions.”
Peru is Particularly Vulnerable to Climate Change
In addressing passage of this landmark Law, congressional leaders note that Peru is the third most vulnerable country in South America to the damaging effects of climate change. In fact, a 2013 UNEP report identified Peru as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of global warming.
Seventy-one percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are in Peru. But, 22% of Peru’s glaciers have melted away over the past 35 years. More than one-third of Peru’s ice caps have vanished. Unless strong measures are employed, environmentalists predict that all glaciers below 5500 meters will completely disappear by 2025.
Living in the Flood Plain
A striking example of Peru’s vulnerability can be seen at Lake Palcacocha, a beautiful glacial lake in the Cordillera Blanca Mountains. The Lake appears to be healthy and inviting, but its waters are swelling due to run-off from melting glaciers.
The rising lake waters threaten 50,000 people who live in the direct path of what will be dangerous flood waters. Officials are applying intermediate measures, such as water pumps, but a long-term solution is the only way to ensure that thousands of people do not lose their lives.
The Law for Climate Change will enable long-term mitigation efforts to reverse the effects of climate change in Peru, such as what is happening at Lake Palcacocha.
Alpaca Breeders Suffer from Income Losses On the other side of the equation, rising temperatures have caused Peru’s grazing fields to dry up. This has created a devastating situation for Peru’s Alpaca breeders, a mainstay of the Peruvian rural economy. Diminishing grazing lands causes a deterioration in the quality of Alpaca wool and meat. The result is that breeders must sell for lower prices. Less income translates into less ability to maintain or even grow their operations, something that ultimately hurts the entire Peruvian economy.
Peru Needs Multi-faceted Strategies to Fight Climate Change
The Law for Climate Change facilitates a diverse strategy incorporating energy development projects and public awareness. Climate change educational programs will be implemented in schools throughout Peru. The objective is to develop an early awareness about the fragility of the environment and man’s impact on it. Leaders envision future generations of Peruvians who will be committed to protecting the natural resources of their country.
Further, the Law for Climate Change requires the establishment of environmental research and studies programs at universities that will focus on extrapolating new data about the impacts of climate change on the Peruvian environment.
The Law for Climate Change Facilitates Clean Energy Development
In early October 2018, Peru was appointed to serve as Vice President of the International Solar Alliance for Latin America and the Caribbean. The ISA is one of the most critical global players in the fight against climate change. Based in India, the ISA, has a membership of 68 countries who have the greatest potential for producing solar energy. The initiative was launched at the 2015 Climate Change Conference at the United Nations. Peru joined the Alliance in 2017.
Peru offers great potential for wind and solar energy. It has established defined goals for the installation of solar panels and wind turbines. A target of 200,000 solar panels, for instance, is expected to satisfy most of Peru’s electricity needs.
Clean energy development, such as wind and solar power are important components of any climate change strategy. However, it impossible to move completely away from liquid fuels. Investment in biofuels, which are carbon-neutral, is another key component of Peru’s long-term clean energy development plan. As Peru takes its leadership position among the developed nations of the world, the challenge of overcoming the destruction caused by climate change no longer appears insurmountable.