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Dealflow.la #32 - Kaszek 🇧🇷 raises $975 Million, Pablo Escobar’s 🇨🇴 hippos to be shipped abroad for $3.5 Million, Buenos Aires' security chief 🇦🇷 beaten at protest, & Bolsonaro 🇧🇷 returns.
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Bakery Tech 🇧🇷 raised a $1.1 Million Seed round led by DOMO Invest 🇧🇷, with funding from Harvard Angels 🇺🇸, and Crivo Ventures 🇧🇷 to create a supply platform intended to become a digital shopper for bakeries. The company's platform uses data intelligence to optimize the management and supply of inputs and guarantees supplier security against default to enable better purchasing conditions for bakeries, bringing together efficient and mixed pricing strategies all in one place, thereby providing customers with an improved shopping and supply experience at local establishments.
Aravita 🇧🇷 raised a $2.5 Million Seed round led by Qualcomm Ventures 🇺🇸 and 17Sigma 🇦🇷, with funding from Norte Ventures 🇧🇷, RG Nutri 🇧🇷, DGF Investimentos 🇧🇷, Bridge Latam 🇲🇽, big_bets 🇧🇷, and Alexia Ventures 🇧🇷 to create a fresh food inventory management platform designed to revolutionize retail operations by optimizing purchase orders and reducing waste. The company's platform offers intelligent forecasting and order recommendations, enabling grocers to maximize profitability, boost sales, and drive performance in fresh food operations while reducing food waste and unnecessary costs.
Comp 🇧🇷 raised a $2.75 Million Seed round led by Kaszek 🇧🇷, with funding from Norte Ventures 🇧🇷, Canary 🇧🇷, and 1616 Ventures 🇧🇷 to create a smart compensation platform enabling businesses with access to compensation data and benchmarks. Gathering information from more than 300 companies and more than 65,000 employees, the platform offers free, real-time data and insights, enabling companies to make smarter compensation decisions.
Mamotest 🇲🇽 raised a $3.3 Million Seed round with funding from Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures 🇺🇸, Merck 🇺🇸, Sonen Capital 🇺🇸, and Sky High 🇺🇸 to improve the early detection of breast cancer in Latin America. Patients use Whatsapp to book appointments at a network of health centers in Argentina and Mexico. The mammography is uploaded to Mamotest for interpretation by its specialists. The company delivers test results to patients within 24 hours and provides ongoing care support.
Pacto 🇲🇽 raised a $4 Million Seed round led by DILA Capital 🇲🇽 with funding from FEMSA Ventures 🇲🇽, 500 Global 🇺🇸, August Hill 🇺🇸, Polymath Ventures 🇨🇴, and the Georgetown University Angel Investor Network 🇺🇸 to allow restaurants to take orders, process payments, and generate invoices, without any contract and initial cost, enabling businesses to optimize their logistics processes both on-site and to-go.
Cometa 🇲🇽 raised a $5 Million Seed round led by Kaszek 🇧🇷 with funding from Salkantay Ventures 🇵🇪, Reach Capital 🇺🇸, Latitud 🇧🇷, Investo 🇲🇽, Homebrew 🇺🇸, and 500 Global 🇺🇸 to offer a platform that helps schools to manage and track their finances and collections. The company allows institutions the ability to automate and digitize their payments and receive real-time reports on timely payers and defaulters. With these funds, the company will expand its presence in Mexico and continue developing its management software platform.
Bacu 🇨🇴 raised a $6 Million Seed round with funding from Hof Capital 🇺🇸, Reshape Ventures 🇺🇸, H20 Capital Innovation 🇺🇸, and Kamay Ventures 🇦🇷 to create an omnichannel operational system to reinvent restaurant services, allowing customers to order on-site, home delivery, or pick up at the restaurant. With these funds, the company plans to grow its operation in Colombia, continue developing its own delivery management tool and payment software, and prepare its expansion to Mexico, Peru, and Chile.
Buenos Aires’ top security official punched and kicked at a protest. Protesting bus drivers punched, kicked, and threw rocks at the top law enforcement official of Buenos Aires province Monday, unleashing a level of violence rarely seen in the demonstrations that are common around Argentina’s capital. The protesters were angry about a fellow bus driver who was slain during a holdup in the city early Monday at age 65, just weeks from retirement. They were blocking a highway outside the capital to demand a crackdown on crime when Berni arrived by helicopter to address them. As TV cameras followed him, Berni approached the protesters, who began shouting insults. Suddenly, protesters attacked with punches, kicks, and rocks as the minister tried to block the blows. Visibly injured and bleeding, Berni was backed against a wall where several police officers and even some demonstrators tried to protect him. (ABC)
Argentina was found liable in a multi-billion-dollar suit over the YPF oil takeover. US judge ruled against Argentina and in favor of entities funded by Burford Capital on claims the South American nation failed to pay fair value to shareholders when it nationalized the gas and oil company YPF SA in 2012. (BA Times)
One of the world’s highest inflation rates is making it more difficult to make ends meet in Argentina, where at the end of last year nearly four of every 10 people were poor, official figures revealed Thursday. Poverty increased to 39.2% of the population in the second half of 2022, a three percentage point increase from the first six months of the year, said Argentina’s national statistics agency, INDEC. Among children under age 15, the poverty rate increased more than three percentage points to 54.2%. (AP)
President Alberto Fernández of Argentina used a White House meeting Wednesday to spotlight the economic strain his country faces as he looks for President Joe Biden to back Argentina’s effort to renegotiate with the International Monetary Fund on terms of $44 billion debt. The United States has veto power in the IMF, so any sign of support from Biden to revise requirements to the debt agreement would be seen as a positive for Argentina while talks continue. In comments to reporters at the start of their meeting, Fernández noted that Argentina’s economy has endured the “worst drought” in the country in more than 90 years. He also noted that Russia’s war in Ukraine has caused rippling effects on his country’s economy and others. “We certainly look forward to your continued support as you have done so far,” Fernández said. Washington is increasingly concerned about China’s involvement in Argentina, particularly the planned construction of two nuclear plants in Buenos Aires by Chinese companies, and may seek concessions from Argentina in exchange for support with the IMF. (AP)
Belize and Guatemala reaffirm Taiwan ties during Tsai's visit. Belize has reaffirmed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the second country to do so in a week as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen travels across Central America in an effort to shore up a dwindling number of allies. (ABC)
As investors sorted through emerging markets at the start of the year on the lookout for potential disasters, Bolivia and Ecuador were low on their list of worries. Despite their rocky political histories and tendency for social unrest, the Andean nations appeared stable. Their bonds were priced at the highest levels in months in January after getting a lift from the emerging-market exuberance that began the year. (Bloomberg)
Kaszek Ventures has raised $975 million for investments in startups in Latin America, the venture capital firm said on Monday. The amount will be directed to two new funds, Kaszek Ventures VI, which will receive $540 million for investments in early-stage startups, and a $435 million fund for later-stage companies in which Kaszek already holds a stake. Kaszek has invested in more than 120 companies, which collectively have raised more than $15.5 billion in capital. (Reuters)
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva sent his top foreign policy adviser to speak to Russian leader Vladimir Putin about potential peace talks to end the war in Ukraine. Amorim, who was Lula's foreign minister from 2003 to 2010, said he met with Putin for an hour on Thursday at the Kremlin as part of the previously unannounced trip. (Reuters)
Brazil's ex-president, Jair Bolsonaro, has returned from his self-imposed exile in the United States. The far-right former leader landed in the capital, Brasilia, on a commercial flight from Florida, where he spent the past three months. Supporters draped in Brazil's flag shouted "legend", but the former leader was led out by a side exit. (BBC)
Two New Yorkers tried to leave Brazil with 77 pounds of gold in their luggage. Illicit gold is a prized commodity for drug cartels and other criminals who rely on it to launder money and conduct illegal business. Experts in the gold trade say the ease with which the New Yorkers obtained the 77 pounds of questionable gold underscores the challenges of cracking down on a trade that fuels environmental destruction and enriches international criminal groups. (NBC)
Olympic volleyball gold medalist Wallace de Souza was suspended for one year by Brazil’s Olympic Committee on Monday for online abuse of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The committee’s ethics council agreed unanimously to suspend de Souza “due to the anti-ethical action of promoting and stimulating violence” on social media. He’s been suspended from club activities since Jan. 31 after he conducted a social media poll asking whether Lula deserved to be shot in the face. (AP)
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Monday he believes the country's economy will grow "more than pessimists think," noting he does not agree with forecasts of a slow gross domestic product growth. Lula said at a meeting with ministers his administration would announce further moves next week as it reaches the 100-day mark, adding he was particularly optimistic with a proposal for public-private partnerships. "Our obsession must be making Brazil grow again," Lula said, noting there were a lot of investments to be made in sectors such as industry, agriculture, science, and technology, with cabinet members outlining plans to be presented next Monday. (Nasdaq)
Lawmakers in Chile, renowned as one of the safest countries in Latin America, approved a series of bills Wednesday to grant security forces more powers and toughen sentencing following the murder of two police officers within 15 days. Deputies overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bills amid a backlash against mounting crime that has undermined support for President Gabriel Boric. The bills will now head to the Senate for further discussion. (Bloomberg)
MercadoLibre, the largest e-commerce platform in Latin America, has announced that it has enabled Bitcoin and cryptocurrency trading to its users in Chile. The feature will allow Chilean users to buy, sell and save Bitcoin through the company’s MercadoPago wallet app. This makes MercadoPago the first digital account in the country to offer this type of operation, according to a statement posted on LinkedIn by Osvaldo Gimenez, President of MercadoLibre. The aim of the move is to eliminate barriers to accessing the cryptocurrency market in Chile, making it more accessible to people with less experience or knowledge in the field, the announcement said. The process is expected to be “very simple” and with “very low,” minimum amounts to operate so that even novice users can take their first steps in the market. (Bitcoin Magazine)
Militants in Colombia killed nine soldiers and wounded nine others in an attack early Wednesday on a military unit securing a northern pipeline, officials said, complicating efforts by the country’s new leftist president to negotiate a lasting peace. The assailants attacked with long-range weapons and improvised explosive devices in El Carmen, in Norte de Santander state near the Venezuelan border, and the military’s preliminary assessment was that the attackers were from the National Liberation Army, or ELN. It would be the deadliest attack by the guerrillas since their resumption in November of peace negotiations with the government, and the violence undermines efforts by President Gustavo Petro to bring “total peace” to the nation of 50 million people. (ABC)
Plunging coca prices create ‘humanitarian emergency’ in Colombia. Farmers in parts of Colombia say sales of coca, the raw ingredient used to make cocaine, have collapsed after a recent surge in production of the illicit drug.
“We’ve seen a complete collapse of buyers,” said Andres Rojas, a coca farmer in the Catatumbo region who advocates for sustainable farming practices among growers. “Entire crops are going unsold, and families are going hungry.” (Al Jazeera)
Removing Pablo Escobar’s hippos from Colombia to cost $3.5m. The plan is to send 60 hippos to Gujarat, India, and another 10 animals will go to zoos and sanctuaries in Mexico. The cocaine baron brought a small number of the African beasts to Colombia in the late 1980s. But after his death in 1993, the animals were left to roam freely in a hot, marshy area of the Antioquia region where environmental authorities have been helpless to curb their numbers – now at 150. (Al Jazeera)
🇨🇷 Costa Rica
Costa Rica's new president calls the press the enemy. Journalists warn 'Nothing like this had ever happened.' In one of Latin America's most consolidated democracies, Chaves’ threats against journalists evoke problems facing the press in other Central American countries. He's attacked the press and called it the enemy, downplayed the need for Covid-19 vaccines and masks, and trashed doctors and scientists from a national medical commission. (NBC)
Ecuador has authorized the carrying and use of guns by civilians, President Guillermo Lasso said in a televised broadcast, citing rising crime and insecurity in the Andean country. Lasso, a conservative former banker, has been fighting to tackle rising crime and violence in the streets and in prisons - where hundreds of inmates have been killed - which the government blames on drug trafficking gangs. (Reuters)
Just days after an explosive device detonated on Lenin Artieda’s computer, injuring him, the journalist was back in the newsroom, refusing to let the incident keep him from working. The main political interviewer for the Ecuavisa television channel was one of five journalists who received letter bombs last week. The attack is the latest in a wave of violence directed at the media in the South American country. All the targets in the letter bomb campaign were high-profile television and radio journalists. The Ecuadorean prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into what it terms a crime of terrorism but did not say why it believed the media offices were targeted. (VOA)
🇸🇻 El Salvador
American crypto evangelist Max Keizer has compared Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele to John F. Kennedy and El Salvador to the kingdom of Camelot, describing it as a kind of promised land for Bitcoin where taxes and central banks are sleighed like dragons. Until a few months ago, Keizer — an American former stockbroker and reporter close to Russian propaganda sites — was just another one of the many outlandish characters who began to arrive in the country in 2021, after Bukele announced that El Salvador would be the first in the world to accept bitcoin as legal currency. (El País)
El Salvador was once the murder capital of the world - no longer, though. In the nearly four years since Nayib Bukele became El Salvador's president, homicides have plummeted. This past year has been especially noteworthy. In March of 2022, the president pushed for emergency rules that allowed the government to round up anyone suspected of being part of a gang. Since then, police have swept through the entire country from urban neighborhoods to farming communities, and they have jailed more than 60,000 people. (NPR)
Honduras' government deployed soldiers across the country as part of a plan to fight criminal groups, authorities said Monday, with official images showing hundreds of soldiers being commissioned for the project. The move comes after leftist President Xiomara Castro implemented a partial state of emergency last December in pockets of the country's largest cities, led mainly by members of the police. "In this new stage we have the task of ending drug trafficking, crime and also capturing the leaders of maras (violent street gangs) and gangs. We will guarantee peace for the life of the Honduran people," Defense Minister Jose Manuel Zelaya said at a ceremony. (US News)
Mexico and Colombia, two of Latin America’s most hawkish central banks, are refusing to call a halt to their record monetary policy tightening cycles even after boosting rates again Thursday. Both central banks matched the expectation of most economists and raised their key rates by 25 basis points each as they fight stubbornly high inflation expectations. Banxico, as the Mexican central bank is known, increased borrowing costs to 11.25% while Colombia hiked its benchmark rate to 13%. The decisions were both approved unanimously. (Bloomberg)
Peru has announced a “definitive recall” of its ambassador to Colombia, accusing its neighbor, as it did with Mexico last month, of downplaying Former President Pedro Castillo’s recent attempted power grab which led to his removal and arrest. The Peruvian foreign ministry said on Wednesday that the move followed “repeated interference and offensive expressions” by leftist Colombian President Gustavo Petro, who was “distorting reality by ignoring that on December 7, 2022, a coup d’etat took place in Peru perpetrated by former President Pedro Castillo”. (Al Jazeera)
Peru president, ex-president probed for alleged money laundering. Peruvian prosecutors are investigating President Dina Boluarte and former president Pedro Castillo for allegedly laundering money as part of a criminal organization. The probe into the alleged crimes by Boluarte and Castillo is part of a continuing investigation into alleged campaign finance crimes committed during Peru’s 2021 presidential race. (Al Jazeera)
Venezuela opposition envoy urges Biden to ease oil sanctions. Fernando Blasi’s call reflects a sharp break from the opposition’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign of the past four years. The new representative of Venezuela’s opposition in the United States is urging the Biden administration to relax crippling oil sanctions on Nicolas Maduro’s government or risk seeing the socialist-run country turn into another Cuba with Washington scapegoated for increasing authoritarianism and economic hardships. Fernando Blasi’s comments represent a sharp break from the opposition’s “maximum pressure campaign” of the past four years when it was relying on the US to muscle Maduro out of power. (Al Jazeera)
Top Venezuela oil official pleads guilty to taking bribes. The former general counsel for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company pleaded guilty in Miami federal court on money laundering charges Wednesday in connection to a conspiracy to siphon at least $550 million from state coffers through corrupt currency deals. (ABC)
Maduro foes can’t get money for lawyers after guaidó’s ouster. Venezuela’s opposition leader Leopoldo López said that a void in the group’s leadership, following the ousting of Juan Guaidó as its recognized president, has made it “impossible” to pay for legal representation to defend the dozens of billion-dollar lawsuits that the nation faces in the US. The opposition, which relied on Venezuelan government accounts frozen by sanctions in the US to finance its operations, hasn’t been issued a license by the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to access the funds, López said in an interview in Washington. Accounts holding $347 million were previously in the control of Guaidó, who the US recognized as Venezuela’s lawful president. (Bloomberg)
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