In Latin America, the entrepreneurial ecosystem has been growing, and in 2021 it set a record with the receipt of venture capital 2021: US$15 billion. This allowed several companies to reach the category of unicorns. However, when talking about cross-cutting issues such as the presence of women in management positions in the region, the figures are poor. It was recently found that in startups and venture capital in Latin America, only 5% of the founding teams of startups and scaleups in the region were made up solely of women in 2021. Similarly, according to a 2019 report by the Inter-American Development Bank, only 27% of people working in STEM fields in Latin America are women.
However, efforts are being made in the region to change these figures, and women are occupying managerial positions in high-growth companies. There are organizations and initiatives in the region working to support and empower women in the startup sector. For example, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group, has a program called “SheWorks!” that supports women entrepreneurs in the region. The program offers training, mentoring, and access to networks and markets to help women grow their businesses.
Among these companies with women in management positions is Laboratoria from Peru. The startup co-founded by Mariana Costa combines technology with social impact. The laboratory conducts bootcamps (intensive training programs) to help women overcome social barriers and unleash their potential. These programs are aimed at women who have not completed their professional studies, where in addition to teaching them about web development and user experience, they connect them with the working world, providing them with skills to start in the software development and UX design market. Since its creation in 2014, they have had more than 2,400 female graduates, with an 85% employability rate.
The representation of women in the startup sector in Latin America remains low, especially considering that of the more than 40 unicorns identified in the region, only three were co-founded by women: Kavak and Nubank. However, it is important to mention that according to a 2020/2021 report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Latin America is the region with the highest female representation in the industry worldwide, with 24% of early-stage women’s ventures.
Also, an important country in the technological growth of the region has companies that have used technology for various purposes, and Agrosmart from Brazil is one of them. This is a Brazilian company that emerged in 2014 and has a presence in 9 countries in Latin America. It is recognized by the World Economic Forum as a leader in technology. It operates as a climate intelligence platform where, through artificial intelligence, it performs meteorological analysis and provides irrigation recommendations. Its CEO and co-founder is Mariana Vasconcelos, and has achieved a capital raise of more than $5.8 thousand in a Series A led by Banco Bradesco in recent was in 2019, which totals $10.5 in funding.
In the country, we also find Gupy, a Brazilian automated human resources startup. This has secured approximately $92 million in investment rounds and is the largest funding a human resources technology platform has received in Latin America. Guppy serves more than 1,500 companies in various sectors and has a presence in Mexico, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, and Peru and has secured 480,000 hires. The company was founded in 2015 by Marian Dias, Bruna Guimarães, Guilherme Dias, and Robson Ventura, who have made it known for the solutions they offer based on artificial intelligence.
Another organization in Latin America that seeks to support women in technology is Girls in Tech. This is a global organization that provides resources and support to women in the technology industry. You will also find that there are events in Latin America that focus on diversity and inclusion in technology, such as the Latin America Women in Tech Conference or even the global Women in Tech Organization. Overall, while there is still much work to be done in the region, countries like Colombia are also working in the tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem to increase the representation of women in the industry.
Thus, we find startups such as Aflore, a fintech that, through a platform of community bankers, provides loans and insurance for the unbanked. They have raised close to US$10 million in equity and Ana Barrera and Manuel Jiménez, founders, have a group of more than 100 employees in areas such as credit and portfolio, product development, operations, sales, marketing, and others. Its purpose is to improve access to credit in Colombia at fair rates and digitally.
Another company is Backstartup, a 100% digital accounting firm focused on SMEs and startups. Co-founded by Juana Barco, in 2021 it acquired close to 300 new clients and raised $1.2 million for its growth. Backstartup synthesizes all the processes for companies to have their accounting centralized, they can upload their invoices and bank statements and make payments for taxes and payroll. The platform has an online accounting firm that combines personalized advice from an accountant and technology for greater efficiency.
Given the above, it is safe to say that many talented and successful women entrepreneurs in the region are making a difference. In addition, by providing more support and resources to women entrepreneurs, a more inclusive and diverse startup ecosystem can be fostered in Latin America, so that more women will continue to contribute to the growth of the region and generate more opportunities for diverse social groups.