Startups find Latin America Ripe for Pioneering Spirit

Latin America has had its challenges with business growth over the last decade, but when it comes to fostering a startup culture, it gets high marks. Today, this region is home to one of the most dynamic and innovative startup ecosystems in the world.

Increased internet and smartphone adoption in the region is fueling the activity. The World Bank reports that around 98 percent of the region’s inhabitants have a mobile cell signal, and 84 percent of Latin American households subscribe to some type of mobile service. Most Latin Americans spend more time on their mobile devices than on computers, and mobile subscriptions have risen in the last few years from 12 percent to 115 percent, with the average Latin American possessing 18 apps on his or her smartphone.

Also stimulating the startup movement are entrepreneurially minded individuals, some of whom are leveraging knowledge and ideas they cultivated outside of their home countries. They returned home to build startups in a market that, despite some obvious growing pains, seems ripe for their pioneering spirit. As far back as 2012, Forbes published a feature on Brazil’s business prospects, noting that, at the time, about 25 percent of the country’s workforce was self-employed in some capacity—and further, that small businesses generated two-thirds of private-sector job creation. This new class of groundbreaking self-starters is adding distinct value to the country’s technology ecosystem.

Latin American countries can take note of three common trends for startup support described by the OECD report “Startup Latin America 2016:”

  • reforms in the policy mix to combine financing schemes with support services,
  • experimenting with new tools, such as co-working spaces and crowdfunding, and
  • forging partnerships with large companies advancing the creation of a pro-startup mindset.

The report also identified some of the countries’ big challenges:

  • strengthening the evaluation of these policies,
  • making advancements in setting up business-friendly regulatory frameworks, and
  • increasing private investment in innovative businesses. 

Mobility Issues for Startups

Any new frontier for startups is a landscape for mobility professionals to monitor, because as these enterprises succeed and grow, they’ll need talent to maintain a forward trajectory. 

One of the most often noted challenges for startups in Latin America—as in many other regions in the world—is the lack of specialized talent. Diverse, skilled talent is an essential ingredient to entrepreneurship and innovation, and fortunately for the region, its population is both well-connected and rich in diversity.

There are some challenges to startup growth that sit squarely in the lap of the countries and cities in need of the talent: composing legislative initiatives to attract investors and encourage new businesses that fuel the growth of ecosystems, developing policy that enables startup growth; enhancing connectivity; fostering training and education; transforming the destination environment so that suitable housing is available; enhancing infrastructure; ensuring that lifestyle needs are addressed; improving security and the like. And while that is happening, it’s imperative for mobility service professionals to grow their partner networks and deepen their understanding of various cultures and employee needs in the startup areas most likely to experience skyrocketing growth, so that they’re poised to assist rapidly growing firms. 

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