Immigrants are a key driver for Peru’s startup community. Founders from other countries bring fresh ideas and valuable connections. Matias Maciel, an Argentine, moved to Peru to take on a regional role at Western Union’s finance team. Now, Matias is CFO and co-founder of Rextie, startup that helps users find the best FX rates and exchange money.
Here are three ways immigrants are having an impact on Peru’s ecosystem:
Building teams: Many foreign startup founders come to Peru with management experience and proven execution ability. These include the founders of Foodbox, DConfianza, Caudalia, and CracktheCode. All have built startups and hired local teams. Often, immigrants team up with Peruvian co-founders.
Providing sector expertise (especially in Fintech): Many founders have arrived with deep experience in the financial services sector. Solven, EFL Global, Culqi, Rextie, Zest Capital, SeguroSimple are all leading fintech players let by foreigners who have settled down in Lima.
Sharing knowledge and bring different perspectives: Immigrants can bring deep technical knowledge in hard or complex fields. The origins of Peru startup Quantum Talent include collaboration with a PhD student from the United States. RunaHR is led by Courtney McColgan who first came to Peru to work for Cabify and successfully building startups in Asia and the United States.
Accelerator programs and other ecosystem actors can provide a great stepping stone for foreign founders to move to Peru. UTEC Ventures and Wayra have startups in their portfolios led by foreigners who have moved here to launch operations in Lima. One example is Poliglota, a language platform for learning English. Founder Nicolas Fuenzalida lives in Lima. Poliglota is a WAYRA company and Nicolas has found the WAYRA space helpful as a base of operations in Peru. Claudio Valenzuela of Mine-Class has used UTEC Ventures as a landing group for his EdTech solution for the mining Sector.
Startup Perú is launching Startup Perú Plug: a public initiative comprised of entrepreneurial capital and an immersion in the local ecosystem for innovative and dynamic foreign startups. The program welcomes startups from abroad that have growth potential in the Peruvian market in order to generate jobs, tax income, knowledge transfer. Startup Perú Plug will add diversity to Peru’s ecosystem and cultivate bonds with international ecosystems
Immigrants, perhaps more than other founders, face obstacles when it comes to integrating in the ecosystem and raising capital. They are not connected to traditional communities (high school, university, social groups) making the level of trust harder to secure investment from local angel investors.
Let’s help them connect and invest behind them. In return, they and their startups will make a lasting impact on Peru. The effect will be a net positive for our ecosystem – and you never know, one day they may open a door for you in their country of origin!
Thanks to Diego Bartra and Charlotte Ducrot for their help in writing this post.