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SoftBank launches US$5 billion Latin American venture fund

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

Contxto – Bloomberg News announced in January that Softbank Group Corporation will launch a Latin American investment fund headed by Chief Operating Officer, Marcelo Claure.

Without a doubt, emphasis will be placed on fostering VC investments and empowering startups based on the region’s immense potential.

Who is Claure?

Son recruited Claure, who is originally from Bolivia, in 2013. Originally, the Japanese company purchased a portion of Brightstar, a telecommunication firm that Claure led prior to the acquisition. Soon enough, Claure started running Sprint Corporation, yielding positive turnarounds.

Eventually, Claure sold the business to a rival company, T-Mobile US Incorporation. Last year, he also became SoftBank’s COO. Some sources even believe Claure could be the next CEO.

What has SoftBank achieved so far in Latin America?

The company has a positive track record of Latin American investment projects. Back in 2000, Softbank launched its Latin America Ventures group to support nearby companies and collaborate with startups.

Since then, Softbank invested millions of dollars into two Brazilian powerhouses, transportation app 99 and delivery giant Loggi. The rationalization is simple – Brazil’s e-commerce industry should catapult itself to new heights in the near future.

Who else is investing in Latin America?

At the end of the day, Latin America represents a new frontier for international business moguls. This is apparent considering that regional investment has doubled since 2013, reinforced by 25 new investors starting operations in 2017. Some of these involved Didi Chuxing and TPG’s Rise Fund.

Even Silicon Valley firms have started investing in Latin America. These companies include Andreessen Horowitz, Accel Partners, Founders Fund, Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator.

UPDATE FROM MARCH 7, 2019: Now according to CNBC, the new endowment is going to be called the Softbank Innovation Fund and will be worth US$5 billion. Although the Japanese group is still figuring where to establish regional headquarters, it already committed US$2 billion.

“Latin America is on the cusp of becoming one of the most important economic regions in the world, and we anticipate significant growth in the decades ahead,” said Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son.

Claure also believes that the new fund will prompt positive transformations throughout the continent.

“There are so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region, and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger. The SoftBank Innovation Fund will become a major investor in transformative Latin American companies that are poised to redefine their industries and create new economic opportunities for millions of people.”

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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