Japanese multinational Softbank Group has finally confirmed that it had set up a US$5 billion fund to invest in prospective technology startups in Latin America.
The possibility of launching a new fund exclusively for Latin America was in the air since February.
SoftBank will focus on e-commerce, healthcare and digital financial services, because these are the industries that are at their infancy in the region for now but have huge prospects.
The LatAm fund will also serve as a vehicle for Softbank’s portfolio companies elsewhere in the world to navigate the local market and expand operations.
“There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region, and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger,” stated Softbank’s chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, a Bolivian native, who will lead the initiative in the region.
“Growing up in Latin America I witnessed firsthand the creativity and passion of the people,” Claure added.
His boss Masayoshi Son, Chairman of Softbank Group, stated that the bank will use technology to improve ‘the lives of millions of Latin Americans’.
Softbank – which runs offices in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Mexico City – has bought time to disclose the LatAm city where it will soon establish its regional headquarters.
The Japanese company made its first entry into the region in 2017 when it invested US$100 million in Brazilian ride-hailing app 99. A year later, it ploughed a similar amount of money into Loggi, another Brazilian startup.
Thanks to Softbank’s arrival, venture capital investments in Latin America surpassed US$1 billion for the first time in 2017, with three tech startups gaining unicorn status.