Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful quote has been on our minds this week.
When we started Magma, our goal was to empower entrepreneurs who were getting overlooked in Latin America. We’ve made anti-racism, anti-classism and anti-gender bias a core part of our investment thesis. We still have much to learn.
That’s why we’re committed to listening to and supporting the work of those who are fighting to make our world a better place.
From protests in Chile and throughout Latin America, to an unprecedented global pandemic wreaking devastation throughout the world, 2020 has seen so much already. George Floyd’s murder is a tipping point.
Throughout it all, we ask: What can we do?
We can keep learning and educating ourselves on the issues affecting our community, our friends, families, investors, and the founders we support. Listen, ask questions and think about we you can be the change we want to see in the world.
Outside of education, one can also hire and wire if one is in a position of power. Make the hire, make the investment. We’ll continue to invest in and be allies to underrepresented founders across Latin America.
As he says, “Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
Here are some other resources we are turning to in this time:
Another way to help is to give to those organizations who are making deep change. Here are some of the organizations we have made donations to. We encourage you to do the same:
#BlacklivesMatter. There is a better way. And we all have a shared responsibility to help find it.
In Q1, we built out our Mexico team, did four new investments and our portfolio companies continued to be successful. Q2 2019 buildings on Q1, with 4 new investments, two in Colombia and two Mexico, headlined by Dataplor and Vozy. We spent time in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, US and Argentina during Q2.
We also had our first exit out of our second fund, with Kushki
Pagos’ acquisition of Chile’s QVO to expand into the Chilean market. Magma portfolio companies have received $65M in follow on funding from funds like Accel, Kaszek, YC, Techstars and more, and sell $35M+ each year.
Kushki Pagos acquired QVO, Magma’s first exit out of Fund II
Magma invested in QVO, a Stripe clone for Chile, in late 2018. We met Kushki Pagos, a Stripe clone for Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico around the same time and help make this deal possible, investing in Kushki in conjunction with the acquisition.
2. Sophia wrote What the VC Landscape is Really Like for Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America
Sophia’s article covered the day to day of being a female founder in the region and the experience of Juliana Villalba, Marta Forero, Maite Muñiz, Maria Paz Gillet and many more entrepreneurs in her Crunchbase article.Continue Reading
“I went to China and I saw the future.” That’s what David Velez, cofounder of Nubank Latin America’s largest neobank, valued at $10B, said at TechCrunch disrupt in 2019 after traveling to China early in his startup’s journey.
Francisco and I had a similar experience when we traveled to China in 2017 and 2018 and spent time with Fintech, eCommerce, social media, blockchain and other startups in China’s dynamic market.
We believe that China and Southeast Asia are more similar to Latin America than the US. They suffer the same problems: Mega-cities with poor infrastructure, lack of good education, many unbanked and underbanked citizens, and much more.
Traveling to China allows us an unfair advantage to see into the future, as China solved many of the problems that Latin America deals with today between 5-10 years ago.
Jie Hao, our Beijing-based partner who many of you met at the 2019 Magma Summit, and Magma Principal JT LI will host us in Shanghai and Hangzhou where we’ll meet startups, VCs and big companies creating the future of FinTech and Retail in the world’s most advanced technology market.
Spend a week with Magma LPs, top founders and team members to really understand where the world is going. And in tpyical Magma fashion, we’ll take time to get to know China outside of the tech space, visiting some of China’s most interesting cultural centers.
Space is limited and reserved for Magma LPs and Founders first. Please book your reservation to save your place! If you have any questions, please let us know! If you’re interested in spending a week with us in China and are not part of the Magma ecosystem, please reach out and tell us a bit about yourself.
Sunday March 29th to Saturday April 4th, starting and ending in Shanghai
Sunday Arrival Shanghai, Welcome Dinner
Monday to Wednesday Shanghai, Future of Fintech and Tourism opportunities
Wednesday April 1, evening, Bullet train to Hangzhou, dinner
Thursday/Friday – Future of retail and eCommerce, closing dinner, tour of Westlake
Saturday morning, bullet train to Shanghai
Included: 3 meals per day, 4 and 5 star hotel accommodations, tours of cultural sites, transport inside China.
Not Included: Flights to and from Shanghai are at own expense
Reserve your trip: https://payform.me/QwlKHY4
Portal Finance originally came to Magma Partners in 2017 when the startup won our regional fintech competition. We provided them with US$50K of pre-seed funding when they were just “four guys in a closet,” as founder and CEO, Diego Caicedo puts it. Today, Portal Finance employs 70 people across Chile and Colombia and has issued over 700 loans to small businesses in the region. Portal Finance is an invoice-backed finance company that streamlines access to capital for small- and medium-sized businesses in Latin America.
Portal Finance uses electronic invoices to provide information to factoring companies to help them make faster and less-risky decisions about giving loans to small companies. This system means small businesses get loans quicker, and at lower rates than before.
Small businesses in Latin America often struggle to get credit because banks view them as a risky investment. Currently, supply chain financing and factoring are the only alternative financing options that 90% of small- and medium- sized enterprises around the world are able to access, and interest rates are typically 20% – 50% per year. Portal Finance gathers critical data from electronic invoices to evaluate and price a loan within just ten minutes, helping factoring companies, corporations, and their suppliers. It was their unique approach to critical financing that brought us to invest in the company last year.
Magma Partners recently made a follow-on investment in Portal Finance through our Fund II, leading a US$1.6M round that will help the fintech startup reach profitability. Now valued at over US$60M, Portal Finance is one of the fastest-growing and most-dynamic startups in our portfolio.
“We believe that Latin America is a global leader in the factoring industry and the most developed market,” said Nathan Lustig, Magma’s Managing Partner, “and as the industry matures, new technology like Portal Finance’s will be needed in more developed markets, such as the United States.”
The partnership with BTG Pactual is a particularly exciting one, as Diego Caicedo notes it is the largest investment to date of a financial services firm in a Latin American fintech startup. Last year, Portal Finance launched a US$5M pilot program with BTG to test the possibility of creating a small business lending program through the investment bank. Today, Portal Finance officially announced a further US$200M partnership with BTG Pactual to continue developing their loan program.
“To build Portal Finance we had to connect a lot of dots and establish trust among many industry players, primarily the alternative assets team at BTG with whom we had a shared vision. By securing this milestone partnership with BTG Pactual, we can scale and execute our vision of transforming how SMEs finance their working capital needs across the region,” said Diego Caicedo, CEO of Portal Finance.
Last week, Magma Partners was invited to participate at the Santiago Google Cloud Summit, which brought together startups, investors and executives from some of Chile’s biggest companies to learn about the future of cloud technology. The summit had sessions on everything from machine learning to drone technology and showed Google’s commitment to empowering Latin American entrepreneurs and businesses.
We are thrilled to see the world’s biggest tech companies, like Google, seeing the value of Latin American entrepreneurship and helping these startups reach the US market.
We spoke to around 300 executives, entrepreneurs, and developers who were attending the event and approached us to learn more about what Magma does. The Summit brought together over a thousand people throughout the day, proving just how much of an impact Google is having on Chile’s tech ecosystem. It is hard to find a company of any size that does not use at least one Google product. We advise our portfolio companies to use Google Cloud products, including Google Drive, to manage information across remote teams and keep backups of important documents.
The event offered Magma an opportunity to engage with the enthusiastic tech community in Santiago, and to see the diversity of that group. The attendees ranged from top executives at companies like Cencosud and LATAM Airlines to young, eager entrepreneurs, all of whom were there to learn about cutting-edge technologies. In our conversations, we learned about dozens of new initiatives cropping up across the region and several intrepid attendees inquired about investing in startups alongside us through FounderList.
We are grateful to Google for organizing the event to support the development of entrepreneurship and tech innovation in Santiago, and for inviting us to attend! It was great to see the energy and enthusiasm of the participants as they took on challenging new topics in technology. We look forward to continuing to work alongside Google to promote and support Latin American entrepreneurship in the future.
Episode 23 of Crossing Borders Podcast with Psafe’s founder Marco DeMello, a Brazil mobile security company that’s raised more than $90M in venture capital to create a profitable business.
Codie Sanchez is a finance professional from the US who has deep experience in Latin America. She started off as a journalist, but moved into finance and works with high net work individuals and family offices while angel investing and helping startups.
Santiago Zavala is a Mexican entrepreneur turned investor who now runs 500 Startups in Mexico City. He has a very cool story and sheds light into the Mexican startup scene.
This post is an excerpt of a blog post that appeared on my personal blog with the title What Entrepreneurs Should Expect While Doing Business in Paraguay where you can read the entire post.
The landlocked country of Paraguay flies below the radar for many entrepreneurs and travelers alike. Home to 6.7 million people, Paraguay has a GDP of $27.44 billion as of 2016, representing 0.4% of the world economy. Minimum wage is 1,964,507 Guaranies per month, which comes out to roughly US$353. Paraguay is a major producer of hydroelectricity, and the Itaipú dam, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy, is on the Paraná river. Paraguay had the highest economic growth in South America from 1970 – 2013, averaging 7.2% per year, albeit from a low base. Paraguay has a moderate inflation rate of 5% on average and international reserves of 20% of GDP, twice the amount of the external national debt.
Paraguay is the second-largest producer of both stevia and tung oil in the world, as well as the sixth-largest producer of soybeans and corn. While unemployment remains low at roughly 4.9%, studies estimate that 30-40% of the population is poor, and in rural areas, 41.2% of the population lacks the monthly income to cover basic necessities.
Jason Grullón is the cofounder of Virtu, a sustainable fashion brand that produces most of its apparel in his native Dominican Republic. Please enjoy this episode of the Crossing Borders Podcast.