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 — from its own balance sheet, it says — 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 dealmaking has shifted into overdrive, with $9.3 billion plugged into Latin American startups in the first six months, and SoftBank Group CEO Marcelo Claure believes that by 2023, closer 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, today at TechCrunch Disrupt. “It’s only half of China, but it’s two times the size of India, and three times the size of Southeast Asia.”

More, he said, people are making money there. “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) in India and two times what people are making in Southeast Asia.

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