In early March, Japanese conglomerate giant SoftBank Group announced the launch of the $5 billion dollar SoftBank Innovation Fund, the largest-ever technology fund exclusively focused on the Latin American market. The Tokyo-based multinational also announced the creation of the SoftBank Latin America Local Hub, an initiative which will assist SoftBank portfolio companies seeking to expand their activities in the region.
SoftBank had initially planned a $2 billion commitment to the Innovation Fund, however, at the date of announcement, this value had more than doubled. The group’s first challenge will be choosing which Latin American country will serve as the fund’s operational headquarters for the region.
The Innovation Fund will be captained by Marcelo Claure, CEO of SoftBank Latin America. “Growing up in Latin America I witnessed firsthand the creativity and passion of the people,” said Mr. Claure. “There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region, and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger. The SoftBank Innovation Fund will become a major investor in transformative Latin American companies that are poised to redefine their industries and create new economic opportunities for millions of people.”
The fund will focus on strategic investments throughout Latin America, including in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Industries of particular focus for the Fund include e-commerce, digital financial services, healthcare, mobility and insurance, among others.
SoftBank is no stranger to Latin American markets having, for example, poured approximately $200 million in Brazilian mobility enterprises over recent years. However, the Innovation Fund is much larger than previous initiatives launched in the region. The move showcases the international market’s sustained appetite for Latin American assets, due to the region's rapidly growing middle class, internet and smartphone penetration and growing e-commerce industry, among other promising factors.