ALIVE invests in companies that are addressing some of the Latin America’s most salient social challenges. Our investees provide products and services that improve the livelihoods and quality of low income communities and, thus, have impact “imbedded” in their business models.
Lack of economic opportunities and inequality are Latin America’s greatest problems. The wave of protests across the region, most recently in Colombia and Chile, are partly a result of frustration about the lack of opportunities, particularly among the young. The COVID crisis has exacerbated this situation, leaving millions in a precarious economic situation.
The statistics speak for themselves. Unemployment in Latin America was 10.3% in 2020- almost 3 percentage points higher than the OECD average. In Colombia, our main target country, unemployment was 15.4% in 2020. In addition, many people in Latin America are underemployed or are engaged in informal activities, with precarious earnings and without access to social security. The lack of opportunities hits Latin America’s 110 million young people disproportionately: one in three young people in Latin America neither study nor work, the so-called NiNis (Ni estudian, ni trabajan).
The causes of this situation are manifold, including the structure of economies, years of sluggish economic growth, and rigid labor markets, among others. Paradoxically, employers across the region have difficulty in filling positions, because they do not find candidates with the right knowledge or skills. Latin America’s educational systems are failing to train employees for the challenges of today’s labor markets.
For this reason, ALIVE has prioritized investments in education, particularly workforce development and job placement. Our most recent investment, uPlanner, is supporting higher educational institutions across the region in improving the quality and pertinence of their educational offering and in adapting to a post-pandemic remote learning context – please see below for an interview with uPlanner Founder and CEO Juan Pablo Mena. Crehana, another ALIVE portfolio company, is rapidly becoming the leading platform of high quality, affordable online training for adults and your people across the region. Our investee Levee uses AI to match blue collar workers with high quality, formal jobs.
These companies are but three examples of the many innovative ventures being developed by Latin America’s EdTech entrepreneurs. By leveraging technology, these companies are tackling head on the status quo, providing pathways for adults and young people to enter the formal job market or to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities.
We are excited as we continue to identify and support fast growing educational companies that are having outsized social impact while providing attractive returns to investors.