SoftBank, the Japan-based technology company, is rolling out a $2 billion fund that will target Latin American technology companies.
According to a report in Reuters, by launching another tech-focused fund, SoftBank is increasing its ambitions in the technology market beyond its massive Vision Technology Fund. Per the report, SoftBank Chief Operating Officer Marcelo Claure will be in charge of the fund, with SoftBank committing an initial $2 billion. It will serve as the new fund’s general partner.
“There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger,” said Claure in a statement. Claure is the executive chairman of SoftBank’s Sprint Corp.
The new fund plans to invest in technology companies across Latin America, going after the same industries and sectors that SoftBank already invests in. That includes eCommerce, FinTech and healthcare, noted the report. The fund will also help existing portfolio companies to expand in Latin America. SoftBank already invested $100 million in 99, a Latin American ride-hailing company that was acquired by Didi Chuxing, noted Reuters. The new fund comes at a busy time for SoftBank. Earlier in March, Grab, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing startup it has a stake in, raised $4.5 billion led by Softbank. Of the funding, $1.5 billion comes from the Vision Fund.
While cash remains king in Latin America with around two-thirds of consumers preferring it over credit, the FinTech market is starting to expand, presenting opportunities for venture capitalists and startups. After all, it is home to more than 630 million people and has important economies including Brazil and Mexico. Latin America still doesn’t have its own version of Silicon Valley, but the region is making progress in digital space with FinTech startups leading the push. With roughly half the population in Latin America unbanked, it presents an opportunity for FinTechs to create solutions such as mobile payments that can bring greater financial inclusion.