Spanish, Funding Rounds, and GDP Growth
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The biggest funding rounds of the year, so far
Where do most Spanish speakers come from?
The comeback of Latin American economies
Make sure you check out the comment of the week at the bottom! It came from our pets chart, which went viral on Reddit.
The world of venture capital has been slowing down this year. We’re in a bear market due to rising inflation and interest rates. These factors limit the availability of companies to borrow money, and thus investment in private and public markets is reduced.
This environment makes the companies’ achievement of getting massive funding rounds even more impressive. Thanks to data from Sling Hub, a platform that tracks Latin American venture capital deals, we put together a list of the largest 10 funding rounds so far this year.
Neon, the Brazilian digital bank, tops the list with a $300M investment led by traditional BBVA bank. The investment helped secure Neon’s growth and gained BBVA “exposure to retail banking in Brazil, a market with one of the highest potential in the world.”
Creditas, which offers consumer loans secured by borrowers’ assets like homes, automobiles, and even iPhones, is 2nd on the leaderboard. It reached a $4.8B valuation in its $260M Series F led by Fidelity, a Boston-based multinational bank. Spot the trend yet? — The two biggest rounds so far this year were led by banks trying to modernize in the heavily disrupted world of finance.
The 3rd largest funding went to Colombian Habi, a platform for buying and selling real estate properties. Besides being the only ‘proptech’ on the list, the startup is female-led. CEO and Co-Founder Brynne McNulty claims that in Colombia, about 70% of properties priced in the middle-class segment are not listed online, representing a massive opportunity for Habi.
New Jersey-born Brynne graduated from Harvard and along with her Co-Founder, Sebastian Noguera, recognized and took on the challenge to disrupt an inefficient industry in Latin America. That’s just the kind of opportunity investors worldwide are searching for as they continue to pour money into this new generation of entrepreneurs.
As Latin and Greek were in the past, English is today's universal language. It has become the default mode of communication for international business, tourism, and technology. However, out of the 1B people that can speak English worldwide, only 372M do it as their first language.
On the other hand, with 470M first-language speakers, Spanish is the second most natively spoken language, positioned only behind Chinese and its variants (1.3B). And if you count non-native speakers, the number soars to 550M Spanish speakers worldwide.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic is that the 2nd country with the most Spanish speakers after Mexico is not another Latin American country or Spain, but the US. This is due to the large Hispanic population in the country, which includes 43M native Spanish speakers and another 15 million people who speak it as a second language.
After adding the numbers, we found that 87% of the world's Spanish speakers reside in the Americas. The growth of the Spanish language is undeniable. As opportunities continue to pop in our region, the ability to speak Spanish can only help those interested in a more international career.
LatAm's GDP grew 6.82% in 2021. In regular times, this number would be astonishing. However, after a pandemic, this means that the region is just getting back on its feet. According to the IMF, Latin America & the Caribbean had the sharpest GDP decline in 2020 at -6.95%.
Although other regions had smaller GDP growth in 2021, they didn't have as sharp a decline when the pandemic began, and they grew more in 2021 than what they declined in 2020. For reference, here's how the rest of the world's GDP moved in the last two years (2020 vs. 2021):
World: -3.06% ➡️ +6.11%
Euro Area: -6.36% ➡️ +5.34%
Sub-Saharan Africa: -1.66% ➡️ +4.51%
Middle East & Central Asia: -2.9% ➡️ +5.71%
Out of all the countries on the chart, Panama's GDP contracted the most in 2020 (-18%). As the world went into lockdowns and international trade stalled, a country that highly depended on its canal traffic was greatly affected.
Peru also had a very sharp GDP decline in 2020 (-11%), mainly due to strict lockdowns, which brought much of the economy to a virtual standstill and caused the failure of many small companies. Even though its economy hasn't recovered to pre-pandemic levels, a growth in domestic demand supported by the expansion of both public and private expenditure is helping Peru get back on track.
Honduras also had a substantial GDP contraction in 2020 (-9%) due to the pandemic and two intense hurricanes, which caused 400k people to lose their jobs that year. On the bright side, the country's 2021 GDP is bigger than in 2019, indicating an almost complete recovery of their economy to pre-pandemic levels, even when accounting for inflation. Honduras' recovery was led by remittances, which supported private consumption, and robust external demand boosted by the U.S. recovery.
Realize Latin America’s Potential 🚀
Hand-selected job opportunities based on what we know about our audience.
This week’s opportunity:
Sling Hub is hiring two Software Engineers, LatAm remote.
Requirements: Team software development experience, knowledge about algorithm complexity, software quality and clean code, intermediate English. Apply here.
That’s all for this week 👋
The comment of the week is in response to our pets chart on LinkedIn. Here’s a photo of all five of Benjamin’s dogs (that’s a lot of mouths to feed):
Feedback or chart suggestions? Reply to this email, and let us know! :)