Latin American has become a hotbed of tech startup activity in recent years, serving as the cradle for many brilliant ideas and innovative projects. A myriad of opportunities as well as challenges— political, economic, and social—have prompted regional entrepreneurs to develop innovative technological solutions for solving local problems and improving the lives of residents.
The following are 7 LATAM countries most suitable for startups, evaluated based on their respective government and private programs for promoting entrepreneurship.
Several regional initiatives make Panama an ideal locale for starting up. For example, the angel-connected AEP accelerator located inside Panama’s City of Knowledge—an international community established for business, academic, scientific, and humanistic collaboration—organizes events and competitions for entrepreneurs. Labs and coworking spaces such as Casco Station and CoworkingPTY offer resources for settling into the local business community smoothly.
Colombia is seeing its own share of startup successes, spurred in large part by programs supporting technological innovation and business leadership. For example, Colombia Startup—promoted by Wayra Accelerator Startups Telefonica Group, IE Business School (the leading Argentinian business school for entrepreneurship), and First Communication Platforms (FCP)—serves as the annual meeting point for Colombian investors and entrepreneurs. The forum gives upstarts the opportunity to pitch their ventures to the global investment community: business angels, venture capitalists. seed capital providers, and private equity funds worldwide.
One of UNESCO’S 15 most beautifully designed cities in the world, Buenos Aires in recent years has become equally attractive to entrepreneurs and startup founders. Community-led organizations like Startup Buenos Aires (SUBA) support startups and entrepreneurship in Buenos Aires and around the world, connecting members both locally and globally through events, educational series, and other events that enable professional connections to flourish.
Many—including leading investment bank Goldman Sachs—project that Mexico will be the world’s fifth largest economy by 2050. Foundations for the tech innovation critical this growth are already being laid out in the country’s largest cities—for example, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara already serve as regional headquarters for tech giants such as General Electric, IBM, Intel, Oracle,
Mexican tech startups have also been highly active as of late, supported by programs like Startup Mexico (SUM). The first of its kind in LATAM, SUM offers seed money, offices, access to diverse services, mentoring, and more for promising entrepreneurs.
The Economist recently reported on Peru’s exception growth rate of 7% a year over the past 8 years. This is the second fastest of all LATAM countries, behind Panama. However, the government is not resting on its laurels, especially when it comes to the tech startup ecosystem: Startup Peru—created by the Peruvian State’s Production Ministry—promotes innovative startups in building successful businesses.
Government programs also play a significant role in supporting Brasil’s highly active tech startup ecosystem. For example, 21212 Start-up Brasil—the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s (MCTI) incubator—supports emerging technology-based companies, startups, and their connection to accelerators.
Government programs are also a critical component to Chile’s tech startup ecosystem successes. The state-sponsored Start-Up Chile program provides early-stage, high-potential entrepreneurs with funding and other resources to bootstrap their startups. The program receives 200–250 companies a year.
Honorable Mention: Wayra
No, Wayra is not a new LATAM nation. This startup accelerator created by Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica has a significant footprint across the continent—with presences in Brasil, Chile, Germany, Colombia, Barcelona, Madrid, Mexico, Peru, London and Venezuela. Wayra provides funding of up to $50,000, office space, mentors, business partners, access to global talent, and access to Telefónica’s customer base.
In short, there has never been a better time for LATAM entrepreneurs and startup founders. For those looking for an alternative to Silicon Valley, New York City, or Austin for starting up, LATAM offers the perfect ingredients for tech startup success: low cost of living/doing business, a highly skilled talent pool, an abundance of fully-realized tech startup ecosystems, and of course—support from regional governments in bringing innovative projects to fruition.