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.
In January we launched the Sin0-Latin America Accelerator with Kr Space, one of the largest coworking spaces in China. We created initiative with Kr Space to help Latin Americans understand how they can leverage the Chinese market and for Chinese entrepreneurs and investors to better understand how they can do business in Latin America.
Since then, we’ve created monthly events with Kr Space to highlight individual countries and opportunities available to entrepreneurs and investors in each country. We’ve held events at Kr Space in Shanghai and Beijing, and at Latin American Embassies in Beijing. Here’s an overview of the Kr-Magma Space events in China so far this year.
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.
I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about doing business in different Latin American countries. You can read the entire blog post about Doing Business in Ecuador on my blog. From the link:
Ecuador is a geographically small, Andean country rich in history and home to 16.1 million people, which makes it nearly the same size as Chile by population. The capital city, Quito, is officially recognized as a world heritage site by the United Nations. In recent years, Ecuador has transformed into a much more stable place to do business with one of the best performing economies in Latin America.
With relatively easy access to the US, many companies are coming to Ecuador to take advantage of its excellent trade routes, sometimes friendly trade agreements, and dynamic workforce. The minimum wage raised to $375 USD this year, ranking as one of the highest in South America. Ecuador’s close proximity to bordering countries, Colombia and Peru, make it a prime location for trade and a source for cheaper materials.
Read the rest of Doing Business in Ecuador.
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.
Episode 22 of Crossing Borders Podcast is with Greg Mitchell of Angel Ventures Peru. We talk about getting started in Peru, the ecosystem and more.
Rocio Fonseca is the guest on Crossing Borders Podcast. Rocio, Start-Up Chile’s executive director, talks about what it was like starting up in Chile in the early 2000s, going to the US, working in Silicon Valley and coming back to Chile to lead Start-Up Chile.
This post is an excerpt from a series I’ve been writing about doing business and starting up in Latin American country. You can read the entire post about Panama on my blog.
Home to the famous 48-mile canal, Panama is a central location for import and export, serving as a connector to ports and cities worldwide. Panama has free trade agreements with many countries, including the United States. Its population has surpassed 4 million and continues to grow along with the average wage, which is currently US$1,238 per month.
Taking after its neighboring country, Costa Rica, Panama uses 65% renewable resources for its energy supply. The financial sector plays an important role in Panama’s GDP. Thanks to sizeable investments, Panama’s economy has prospered, leading to installations of Metro lines and significant city renovations. 2016 marked one of its biggest foreign investments, rolling in at US$5.2 billion.
Read the rest of the article about Panama: Investments make for a bright, sustainable future.
Thomas Allier is the cofounder of Viajala, which I like to call the Kayak of Latin America. Originally from France, he moved to Chile for Start-Up Chile and then moved to Colombia where he received investment from Mexican and Colombian venture capital firms.