LatAm ICT investment, financing watch

Investment fund Bertha Capital and Brazil’s Amazonas state industries federation Fieam launched a fund with initial capital of 100mn reais (US$21mn) to finance startups in the state.

The corporate venture capital fund plans to invest between 500,000 and 5mn reais in some 15 industry 4.0 startups. The focus is on bioeconomy, fintechs and traveltechs, among others that are related to Amazonas’ economy, Fiem said in a release.

The first allocation is going to Fieam’s own startup venture builder to invest and accelerate around 50 new businesses in the next four years. 

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Mexican fintech Clara, which offers expense management solutions to companies in Latin America, announced its entry into Colombia in a partnership with Mastercard and US$10mn in investments.

Founded in 2020, the company also has plans to operate in Chile, Argentina, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, as part of its regional expansion drive, in addition to consolidating its presence in Mexico and Brazil.

Clara reached unicorn status three months ago with a valuation of US$1bn. In Colombia, the company is targeting an initial base of 1,000 companies and has a team of 30 people that it expects to expand over the course of 2022.

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China’s Tencent led a US$180m series C round for Jeeves, a US-based corporate card and expense management platform focused on Latin America, to support the company’s expansion across LatAm, Canada and Europe.

The funding, which reportedly values Jeeves at US$2.1bn, saw the participation of Silicon Valley Bank, Andreessen Horowitz, CRV, GIC, Stanford University, FT Partners, Clocktower Ventures, Urban Innovation Fund, Haven Ventures, Gaingels, Spike Ventures and angel investor Carlo Enrico (president of Latin America and the Caribbean for Mastercard).

Jeeves said in a release that it will use the proceeds to scale its proprietary infrastructure to cover more currencies, acquire top-tier talent, and accelerate the onboarding of new companies to the platform.

Jeeves said it has doubled its client base to more than 3,000 companies and has grown revenue 900% since a series B funding in September. The company operates in 24 countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Canada and the UK.

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Colombia-based startup Simetrik, focused on reconciling companies’ financial data, raised US$24mn in a series A funding round led by the US FinTech Collective to expand its operations, including in large Latin American markets such as Brazil.

The funding included the participation of Tiger Global and Moore Strategic Ventures, along with existing Cometa and Monashees backers, as well as different angel investors.

The startup has as clients Rappi, Mercado Pago and Nubank, among others.

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Investments in innovation in Brazil this year will mainly target management systems and digital security tools, infrastructure, data management, customer marketing, customer service channels and online sales channels, according to a Deloitte survey.

Deloitte assessed 491 Brazilian companies, 57 in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sector, about their investment plans.

Among other findings, almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents from TMT companies expect Brazil’s GDP to decline or remain flat in 2022, in a range of -0.5% to 0.5%, while 35% believe in growth or strong growth.

The top strategic business actions being prioritized, according to respondents, are participation in bids and privatization processes (55% of the answers), acquisition of companies (32%), acquisition of products/brands (25%) and participation in public concessions (11%).

To expand business, companies intend mostly to buy machinery and equipment (42%), open new points of sale (38%), expand current production units (23%), and open new production units (15%).

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