- Event is first step in IDB’s broader plan to build a digital bridge between Miami and the region
- South Florida’s vast network of startups, venture capital firms and investors offers unique opportunity to jumpstart growth
(Updated number of participants, countries and business deals)
MIAMI—More than 4,500 business leaders from 80 countries participated in a forum hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank to kickstart economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean by deepening digital trade and investment opportunities between the region and South Florida.
The first-of-its-kind event bolstered ties between Miami’s rapidly growing tech community and Latin America and the Caribbean in a broad range of areas, including connectivity, venture-capital funding, and the digital empowerment of female-led tech companies.
“Digitalization has defined the winners and the losers of the pandemic, underscoring the importance of connectivity and the need to ensure that every single person and business is online,” said IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone. “That creates a huge opportunity both for Latin America and the Caribbean and for Miami. We are here to help people and investors of all types seize that opportunity.”
At least 960 companies from Latin America and the Caribbean and Miami participated in virtual matchmaking sessions at the event, leading to $100 million in expected deals. Such sessions have been remarkably successful at creating business. In fact, the event also served as a special tenth-anniversary edition of the IDB's flagship event for the global digital services sector, Outsource2LAC, which has facilitated more than 12,000 B2B meetings resulting in more than $310 million in projected business deals.
As part of the event, the IDB also released a new study on the state of connectivity in Latin America and the Caribbean. The study underscores how important internet access is to economic growth and employment. Latin America and the Caribbean could create more than 15 million jobs and boost GDP by almost 8% simply by closing its connectivity gap with members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, according to the study.
To expand ties between Miami and the region, ConnectAmericas, a social network for companies dedicated to promoting trade and investment, also launched its “digitalization in international trade” challenge as part of the IDB’s “Growing Together” program.
In addition, President Claver-Carone announced a $300 million project to help thousands of small companies in Peru go digital. The project includes the creation of new diagnostic tools to help entrepreneurs identify digital investment gaps.
“Initiatives like this will help companies expand and create good jobs, benefitting everyone in the region, especially those hardest hit by COVID-19,” Claver-Carone said.
Increasing digitalization and offering greater help to small companies are key pillars of Vision 2025, the IDB’s plan to help Latin America and the Caribbean not only recover but usher in an era of robust development. Across the region, the IDB, through its Tecnolatinas report, has identified 1,005 technology startups that each raised more than $1 million. These companies employ over 245,000 people and are collectively valued at $221 billion in 2020, up from just $7 billion in 2010.
The IDB is moving ambitiously to ensure that these and other companies thrive and build on Miami’s many demographic, linguistic and cultural ties to the region. Almost 70% of Miami-Dade’s population identifies as Hispanic or Latino and foreign-born founders of companies account for around 40% of Miami’s entrepreneurs.
Leaders from across the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean participated in the Miami-LAC forum, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; Adrienne Arsht, founder, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council; Manuel “Manny” Medina, founder and managing partner of Medina Capital; María Paula Arregui, COO of MercadoPago; Thomas “Tigre” Wenrich, CEO of LAB Miami Ventures; Mariana Castro, vice president, sales, marketing and operations, of Microsoft Latin America; and Sylvia Constaín, vice president, government relations, of Visa Latin America, among many others.
IDB participants included: Mauricio Claver-Carone, president; Jessica Bedoya, chief of staff; James Scriven, CEO of IDB Invest; and Irene Arias Hofman, CEO of IDB Lab, among others.
South Florida’s vast network of startups, venture capital firms and investors offers unique opportunity to jumpstart growth.
Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 28 million small and midsize companies. These firms account for 61% of all formal jobs but just 25% of GDP. That is partly because smaller companies are less likely to invest in digitalization, even though companies that go digital grow up to 30% faster than those that do not.
Despite the pandemic, ties between these and other companies to Miami have been growing. In 2020, Latin America’s tech industry struck a record 488 venture capital deals, directing $4.1 billion into Latin American and Caribbean startups, many of which are linked to Miami.
VoyHoy, for example, was founded in Santiago, Chile, but its funding surged by 200% after setting up its headquarters in Miami. Open English, an online English learning platform founded in Venezuela, raised $116 million after moving to Miami.