18 New Unicorns Born in Latin America in 2021
2021 marked a milestone for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Latin America. According to a report by CBInsights, $14.8 billion in VC was poured into the region during 2021, up 174% from 2020. In total, 660 deals were closed, 121 more than last year.
Latin America was often overlooked by foreign VC investors until 2019 when SoftBank launched its $5 billion Latin American Fund – a huge bet, as the region had only raised a total of $3.9 billion in VC the year before. Softbank’s bet caught global investor’s attention. The combination of tech adoption due to the pandemic and the maturity of the region’s startup ecosystem, seem to have collided and created an explosion in entrepreneurship.
This year, 18 new unicorns were born in Latin America, Mexico made its debut as a unicorn maker, but half of the 18 new unicorns were Brazilian startups, claiming the number one position as the regions biggest unicorn producing country. (SlingHub, Contxto, Bloomberg Línea)
Lithium Hitting Fresh Highs
The global push toward electrified transport has fired up consumption for lithium and the battery material’s prices have more than tripled this year to a record. Miners are scurrying to expand capacity, but they can’t keep up with demand and market tightness is likely to persist in the near term.
Today, Latin America is increasingly indispensable, since it concentrates around 90 percent of the planet’s lithium reserves in the so-called lithium triangle (Argentina, Bolivia and Chile), to which are added recent discoveries in Mexico and Peru.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) 2021 report, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Peru hold 67 percent of world lithium reserves.
Below is the overview of the Latin American countries that have Lithium reserves, let’s have an overview of Latin American Lithium. (Bloomberg, FinancialExpress)
Santander to Invest $6 Billion in Digital Transformation in LatAm
Spain’s Santander announced that the Bank will invest around $6 billion between 2022 and 2024 to promote digital transformation of its Latin American operations.
Santander’s diversification overseas, especially in Latin America, has helped the bank cope with tough conditions for lenders in Europe in the years since the financial crisis. It hopes that expanding in emerging economies will help it deliver faster growth than its core markets in Europe of Spain and Britain.
Santander has previously said it invests around $5.6 billion in technology per year as a group.
Around 40% of Santander’s profits come from Latin America, with Brazil being its biggest market there. The whole region is home to 80 million of its 152 million customers and to half of its 193,000 employees.
Santander has recently raised its stake in its Mexican unit to 96.2%. (USNews)
LatAm Countries Now Have Higher Vaccination Rates than Europe and North America
The vaccine rollout was slow at the start, with just getting the vaccines in hand a major issue. Just six months ago, Latin America and the Caribbean were reporting just under half of all Covid-19 related deaths worldwide. Now, the region accounts for about 10% of Covid-19 related deaths, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.
Brazil, home to one of the highest Covid-19 death rates in the world, has emerged from its darkest days of the pandemic with a successful vaccination drive. Major cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo have seen more than 99% of the adult population receive at least one dose of the vaccine, Reuters reports.
Chile’s record is even better — with 85.6% of the population fully vaccinated. Uruguay has vaccinated 76.6% of its inhabitants and Argentina’s vaccination rates sit at 70%.
Regionally, over 868 million doses have been administered as of December 22 in Latin America and the Caribbean, PAHO reported, with around 57% of Latin America and the Caribbean’s population fully vaccinated. That compares to 67.8% in Europe and 61.3% in the United States. (CNN)
EU launches the LATAM Digital for Development Hub
A year after launching the D4D Hub for Africa, The European Commission and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council have launched the Digital for Development (D4D) Hub for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Digital Alliance is due to be established in 2022. The D4D Hub will be one of the main channels to translate digital transformation into actions, by bringing in EU digital expertise and technology and by fostering contacts, partnerships and investments in the digital economy of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The D4D approach is based on knowledge sharing, advisory services to national and regional institutions and technical assistance to leverage expertise and partnerships with all relevant stakeholders: from governments to the private sector, academia, think tanks, civil society organizations.
”Societies thrive when they are connected to one another. Today more than ever, digital technologies are decisive for sustainable development. I am delighted to see that the Digital for Development Hub is reaching another level of its international operationalization; this will reinforce our ties with our partners from Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the EU Global Gateway in action”, said the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen.
The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean share an interest in strengthening digital cooperation as a central part of their joint forward-looking, sustainable recovery agenda, in line with the discussions at the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Leaders’ Meeting of 2 December 2021. The Digital for Development (D4D) Hub was launched on 8 December 2020 by President von der Leyen. It is an ambitious Team Europe coordination mechanism to step up dialogue to promote a human-centric model of digital transformation with partner countries. So far, 12 EU Member States (Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and The Netherlands) are participating in the Global D4D Hub together with the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to address the digital divide as Team Europe. (European Commission)