SoftBank will add $1 billion this year to its $5 billion Latin America Fund introduced in 2019, adding to last year’s $1.6 billion, Bloomberg reported on Friday (Feb. 14).
Its investment in Latin America this year will target eCommerce, healthcare, FinTech and other industries, as it looks at about 650 firms in the region. SoftBank has so far earmarked $100 million to $150 million to fund 17 companies and two venture capital firms.
“We are focused on investing in companies that could achieve long-term profitability,” Andres Freire, a managing partner and head of SoftBank’s Southern Cone region, said during a roundtable with reporters in Buenos Aires.
Freire added that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico “are in the spotlight,” and there’s no “preset amount by nation.”
SoftBank has put money into the delivery startup Rappi in Colombia; Gympass, a Brazilian fitness company; and the FinTech Uala, based in Argentina. Softbank’s move into Latin America is also looking at artificial intelligence (AI) startups that apply the technology to food-related businesses, particularly plant-based food.
More than 50 percent of the startups the regional fund has invested in are from Brazil.
The Japanese conglomerate is also “paying special attention” to two companies from Brazil, one from Peru and one from Chile, Freire said.
In addition, it will continue direct investments in venture capital firms. In 2019, Softbank invested $130 million in Kaszek Ventures and bought a $100 million stake in Valor Capital Group.
SoftBank is also partnering with the Correlation One foundation to start an 11-week training course for future AI experts, he said.
Latin America-based AlphaCredit has signed up for a funding round to raise $125 million, led by SoftBank’s Latin America fund. As SoftBank’s Latin America fund is one of the leading technology investors in the world, the equity infusion will give AlphaCredit the opportunity to “consolidate its place as one of the leading financial technology platforms” in the region, a press release said in January.