Why Mexico Is an ‘Undiscovered Opportunity’ for Entrepreneurs

January 20, 2015

1/15/2015 Inc.Magazine

businessIt was 2008 when Paul Ahlstrom from Alta Ventures chose Mexico as the next big opportunity to create and promote a venture capital industry. It’s been a long time since then. I was able to visit Monterrey, Mexico a couple months back and see a growing startup ecosystem in Mexico that was starting to become noticed. Here’s a brief overview of the last six years, during which Mexico developed into an operational entrepreneurship ecosystem and one of the best options for the entrepreneurs in Latin America.

For a long time the roadmap to success for anyone in Mexico was; go to a private university and get a job in a big company, climb your way up, and end up having a great and secure job. This has changed so radically that today we find that recently graduated engineers are looking to create a startups instead of accepting a job offer in the U.S. In a short time there has been the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s growing in every aspect: startups, funding and education. Recent statistics for Mexico show that:

  • Each year approximately 118,000 engineers graduate from college
  • 80 universities are focusing on engineering as their main area of knowledge
  • There are 45 venture capital funds
  • There are 100 accelerators and 20 incubators
  • 6.3% of people between the ages of 18 and 24 own their company.

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U.S. Hispanic and Asian populations growing, but for different reasons

June 27, 2014

06/26/14 Pew Research Center

US_Permanent_Resident_CardThe distinction of being the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the United States has alternated between Asians and Hispanics in recent decades. Since 2010, though, Asians have had the edge. New Census Bureau data estimate that the U.S. Hispanic population topped 54 million as of July 1, 2013, an increase of 2.1% over 2012. Meanwhile, the Asian population grew to 19.4 million, with a growth rate of 2.9%.

U.S. births have been the primary driving force behind the increase in the Hispanic population since 2000 and that trend continued between 2012 and 2013. The Census Bureau estimates that natural increase (births minus deaths) accounted for 78% of the total change in the U.S. Hispanic population from 2012 to 2013.

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Mexico courts foreign investment with energy reform

December 13, 2013

Financial Times, 12/12/13

energy - oil barrelsAfter being banished to an auditorium when leftist  deputies hijacked the chamber, Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed historic  energy reforms on Thursday designed to lure billions  of dollars in investment to a sector shackled to the state for 75 years.

Cheers of “Mexico, Mexico” were met by chants of “traitors, traitors” from  critics of the reform at the culmination of a rowdy session, which was switched  to a crowded auditorium after opponents padlocked the chamber and blocked it  with chairs in a bid to derail voting.

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Aztec tiger begins to sharpen its claws

July 9, 2013

Mexico City - nunavut (Flickr)Financial Times, 6/27/2013

A few years ago, as Mexico reeled from one of the worst recessions in living memory, the future looked grim – if not just plain menacing. By regional standards, at least, the 2 per cent average annual growth rate in the years preceding the downturn appeared anaemic. Political stalemate in Congress had all but erased any hope of passing economic structural reforms. A violent war on organised crime had some voices in Washington suggesting that Mexico could even be heading down the path towards becoming a failed state.

Fast-forward to today and Mexico is one of the brightest prospects in Latin America. No longer in the shadow of Brazil, where growth has slowed dramatically, the region’s second-largest country suddenly appears strong and confident. The economy is likely to expand at more than 3 per cent this year after growing 3.9 per cent in 2012. International investors have rekindled their love for Mexico. Between the start of this year and May 8, the country received a net US$5.6bn in fixed-income and equity flows, three times the amount that went to Brazil. Before June’s generalised emerging markets sell-off, this new-found favour helped push Mexican sovereign borrowing costs to record lows, and the stock market to record highs.

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Taking Off: Mexico’s Demographic Challenge

June 21, 2013

education - children poverty - EcuadorBoston Review, 1/10/2013

Mexico is going through crucial and unprecedented times. It may take off or it may collapse. And I do not exaggerate or mean this rhetorically. Never before has Mexico had so many young people: nearly 30 million men and women aged 15–29, representing 26.4 percent of the country’s population. They are what we call in Mexico the “demographic bonus,” at first considered a great opportunity to enhance the country’s growth and development, and now a threat to its existence.

Despite improvements in education—95 percent of the population has at least finished elementary school—and a relatively stable economy, most of these young adults are victims of the inequality and exclusion characteristic of Mexican society. In 2010, when the last census was taken in Mexico, 17.1 percent of the adolescents (15–17 years old) and 24.2 percent of the young adults living in Mexico did not go to school or have a job. Millions of them have been excluded from these key social institutions: learning and work. Young men and women, Mexico’s future, are being left without futures of their own.

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Mexico’s Tech Startups Look To Overcome Barriers To Growth

June 19, 2013

blank tabletNPR, 6/18/2013

In the past decade, Mexico’s tech industry has flourished, growing three times faster than the global average. Most of that growth has been fueled by demand from the United States. But as Mexico’s startups strive to make it in foreign markets, they say they need more engineers and ways to finance their growth.

Softek, Mexico’s biggest technology services company, spans four continents and provides software support to a client base that includes Fortune 500 companies. The business sector is growing rapidly in Mexico, thanks in large part to the country’s proximity to the United States. “I think it’s safe to say that without the U.S., the Mexico market would not be doing very well,” says Morgan Yeates, an analyst with the IT consulting firm Gartner.

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Videgaray Says Mexico’s Growth to Quicken as Spending Rises

June 18, 2013

luis videgarayBloomberg, 6/17/2013

Mexico’s economic growth will quicken as the government increases spending in the second half of the year, Finance Minister Luis Videgaray said. The economy grew at the slowest pace in more than three years in the first quarter after spending was contained after a new government took over in December, Videgaray said in an interview in London. President Enrique Pena Nieto took office on Dec. 1.

Investor confidence in Mexico has waned after the economy expanded less than analysts expected in the first quarter and government plans to overhaul the state-controlled oil industry were held up. Capital flows also have slowed on signs the U.S. Federal Reserve could scale back asset purchases as economic growth strengthens. “We expect much more accelerated spending in the second semester,” Videgaray said. “The budget is there and the revenue is there.” Mexico’s government spending fell about 7 percent in real terms to 1.16 trillion pesos, or $90 billion, in the first four months of 2013 compared to the year-earlier period, according to data from the central bank.

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