Latin America finds a champion in SoftBank Group International CEO Marcelo Claure

SoftBank is gaga for startups in Latin America. Since first announcing it was planting a stake in the ground in the region in early 2019, the Japanese conglomerate has plugged more than $5 billion into the region, and it expects that number to top $8 billion by year’s end.

Its capital contributions are meaningful to say the least. In 2019, startups across Latin America raised $5.3 billion in funding, according to CB Insights. In 2020, they raised roughly the same amount.

This year, the pace of deal-making has shifted into overdrive, with $9.3 billion being invested in Latin American startups in the first six months of the year. SoftBank Group CEO Marcelo Claure believes that by 2023, close to $30 billion will be invested in the region annually.

“Finally, the world has realized that Latin America has size,” said Claure, a native of Bolivia, said this week at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021. “It’s only half of China, but it’s two times the size of India, and three times the size of Southeast Asia.”

He also pointed to the fact that people in the region are making money. “Latin America has the same GDP per capita — $9,000 to $10,000 per year — as China, and that’s three times (GDP per capita) that of India and two times what people are making in Southeast Asia.