Catholicism, EdTech, and Oxxos in Europe
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Distribution of Catholic faith around the world
LatAm’s most notable EdTech startups
Oxxo's expansion into Europe
Make sure you check out the comment of the week at the bottom!
Despite seeing a consistent drop in Catholic faith, Latin America continues to be home to the most practicing population in the world. When Columbus first arrived in the Americas, he did so with funds from Isabella I of Castile, who was known as the “Catholic Queen.” Colonization was then justified on religious grounds, serving the mission of converting natives into the “superior” Catholic faith. Requerimiento was a document drafted in 1513, often read out loud to Native Americans, ordering them to join the faith and serve the Spanish monarchy or face the consequences — war, death, and slavery.
La Virgen de Guadalupe allegedly “paid a visit” to a poor farmer in Mexico almost 500 years ago, and since then, it served as a powerful icon to turn the faiths of the natives. Schools and cathedrals were built all over the region on behalf of the Church. The effects of this massive indoctrination are still present in Latin America:
The current Pope was born in Argentina.
You can still see the Virgencita all over Mexican culture.
Despite much of the younger generation turning its back on mass attendance, most of their weddings are still officiated by the Church.
Even though all countries’ governments are now separate from the Church around 9M children are still enrolled in a Catholic school in the region.
A few months ago, we shared a chart about the decline of Catholicism in Latin America, but it’s happening at very different paces depending on which country you look at. Paraguay is the most Catholic country in the continent, and the 4th in the world, with 89% of its population still practicing. On the other extreme is its neighbor Uruguay, with only 34% of its population practicing.
Our Partner this Week 🤝
Platanus Ventures will invest $100K in your startup for a 7% stake and help you scale. You will also be supported by the best network of Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.
Last week, PV hosted their bi-annual demo day, where startups of their 4th cohort connected with angel investors and VCs. It was a huge success:
Oversubscribed startup rounds
More than $2M+ of committed investments
Tickets from family offices and Silicon Valley VCs
2.5x the number of investors attended (vs. last demo day)
Applications for its upcoming cohort close July 29!
There’s lots of noise about the EdTech space, for good reason. These startups are disrupting and democratizing education globally. They’re proliferating around the world and making education accessible, and Latin America is no exception. Seven of the ten education-related companies with the most funding in the region are in Brazil, according to data from Crunchbase.
Afya, a Brazilian medical education company that uses a tech-first approach to teaching medicine, tops the chart with $150M in funding after its IPO in 2019. Its roots trace back to 1999 when private university ITPAC Araguaína opened its doors. After a 20-year history of growth and acquisitions, the company became the first in its industry segment to go public on the Nasdaq.
The non-Brazilian companies on our chart, Crehana, Platzi, and UBITS are worth highlighting as they are still very much in the startup phase and growing fast.
Crehana is Peru’s most notable startup, with a funding round worth $70M, it raised the largest EdTech Series B round in Latin America last year. The company, founded by Diego Olcese and Rodolfo Dañino, offers 1K+ courses for both individuals and businesses. It experienced “triple-digit growth” at the height of the pandemic.
Platzi, founded by Fredy Vega and Christian Van Der Henst, offers courses and interactive lessons for anyone looking to increase their tech, marketing, programming, business, and design skills. On the other hand, founded by Julián Melo and Marta Forero, UBITS focuses on the B2B market and helps LatAm companies increase the skills of their employees.
After building Oxxos on every corner of Mexico, Femsa is turning to the wealthiest region in the world for its future. Last week, Oxxo’s parent company, Femsa, announced a $1.2B cash takeover of Swiss convenience store chain Valora. The deal includes 2,724 points of sale across Europe under 15 different brand names.
Throughout the years, Femsa has been building a convenience store empire in Mexico, surpassing some of the most iconic chains and reaching a high of 4 stores opened daily in 2018. The company’s rate of openings started slowing down in 2019. In 2020, the company’s rate (understandably, due to the pandemic) slowed down to 0.6 store openings per day. However, since 2021, its build rate hasn’t recovered, opening about two stores per day. That rate is about what it was in 2007.
Oxxo’s international expansion officially began in 2009, when Femsa opened 5 locations in Bogota, Colombia. The growth wasn’t nearly as aggressive as in Mexico; instead, the company took its time experimenting with those stores to understand the market and the Colombian customer. Once it felt more comfortable, the company accelerated its openings in South America, and it now owns 300+ stores across Colombia, Peru, Chile, and Brazil.
Now it’s time for an exciting and possibly very lucrative new chapter for Femsa. The average GDP per capita in the European Union is about $38K. If we compare that to Mexico’s $10K, the European segment represents a very attractive opportunity for growth. The deal also includes pretzel stores, coffee shops, and other concepts that are unchartered territory for Femsa. A spokesperson said this might be the first of a series of acquisitions to enter markets outside Latin America.
It’s unclear whether Femsa plans to keep the brand names and concepts it just acquired, but an Oxxo right next to the Eiffel Tower just became a not-so-crazy possibility.
Realize Latin America’s Potential 🚀
Hand-selected job opportunities based on what we know about our audience
This week’s opportunity:
Crehana has 6 job openings in Peru and Mexico.
Platzi is hiring remotely for its Design, Growth, Product and Production team. Check all positions here.
UBITS is also hiring hybrid positions in Mexico and Colombia. More here.
That’s all for this week 👋
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Here’s the Comment of the Week, in response to our remittances chart on LinkedIn.
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