This article is part of our Corporate Innovation Around the World series. To see past articles click here.
In 2012, it seemed like nothing could stop Brazil.
The country was at the top of a two decade rise where inflation was curbed, commodities rose, and the country’s GDP increased to $2.5 trillion.
During this time, entrepreneurship was on the rise in Brazil and nearly 25% of adults were self-employed in some capacity.
Fast-forward to 2016, and Brazil was being called an economic failure due to poor financial management, political unrest and a decline in commodities value and overall revenue.
Despite the turmoil, Brazilians never lost their entrepreneurial spirit, with the startup sector growing by more than 30% per year between 2011 and 2016.
Today, those startups are seeking to revive the economy through innovation.
From Financial Turmoil to FinTech
In spite of the financial turmoil, or perhaps because of it, FinTech is one of the fastest growing startup sectors in Brazil.
One of the main problems in Brazil today is the high interest rates on loans stifling growth. As a result, many of the financial startups in the country seek to solve the problem of borrowers not being able to to return loans.
The leading FinTech startup of Brazil, NuBank, was founded in 2013 out of a need to reduce the high interest rates on loans and the complicated banking services that previously dominated the country. Since its foundation, NuBank has raised more than $527.6 million in eight investment rounds from investors including Sequoia Capital, Goldman Sachs and QED Investors.
Another FinTech startup seeking to simplify borrowing is Geru. The Sao Paulo based startup offers a virtual marketplace that simplifies the lending process by reducing interest rates and making the lending process entirely transparent. Geru is backed by Chromo Invest, a Brazilian asset management and investment company, that has already invested over $158 million in Geru since it’s foundation in 2013.
In addition to focusing on making loans more accessible to individuals, Brazilian startups are looking for ways to improve financial management and provide investment advice.
That is exactly what Magnetis seeks to do. The early stage startup has raised more than $6.4 million for their digital platform that provides investment advice and low cost portfolio management that can be handled with ease.
Education in a Nation of Entrepreneurs
As the startup scene in Brazil rises, many have focused their attention on education.
Descomplica was founded in 2012 in Rio De Janeiro, and was created to help students prepare for entrance exams through the integration of video and SMS lessons.
Their unique education entertainment model brings in students at high numbers, with students averaging 80 minutes per visit on their site or application.
Beyond being entertaining, it seems like their platform is having an impact. Descomplica students out-perform the national entrance exam average score. Descomplica has raised more than $14.1 million in four funding rounds.
EduK is another EdTech startup hailing from Brazil that is specifically focused on the entrepreneurs of the country.
The EduK platform offers practical courses in a variety of professions including photography, design, videography and more. The site also offers courses specifically designed for entrepreneurs, teaching them how to build and manage their business with ease. Their commitment to the local entrepreneurial spirit has helped them raise more than $10 million in two investment rounds.
Some EdTech startups in Brazil are now experiencing growth beyond Brazilian borders. For example, mobile device management solution Mosyle is expanding to the U.S. Mosyle’s solution simplifies mobile device use and management within schools, optimizing their use for education and not distraction.
Strengthening the Agricultural Industry
Brazil is the fifth largest population in the world, making it no wonder that they have a large agricultural industry responsible for feeding more than 207 million people.
One of the most dominant sub-industries within agriculture is the beef market. Brazil is one of the largest beef producers and exporters in the world, and they are experiencing rapid growth both in value and in volume.
To help manage the cows that supply the beef, one local startup – BovControl – simplified data collection and analysis of cattle.
The small BovControl team continually seeks innovative solutions for herd management and livestock operation improvements, even hosting the Internet of Cows hackathon in partnership with Google Launchepad and The Silicon Valley Forum in 2017.
Another agricultural startup hailing from Brazil is Strider. Their unique solution was designed to improve agricultural management, focusing on improving pest monitoring and control. After raising $4 million in two funding rounds, Strider was acquired by Swiss AgTech giant Syngenta on March 26th, 2018.
Carnival and Creativity
As Brazil continues to rise out from the recession, there is no doubt that their startup scene will continue to rise as well. Big name investors such as Sequoia Capital are beginning to turn their attention toward the South American country, and since 2013 investment in Brazilian startups has more than doubled.
While we may never know if the entrepreneurial spirit of the Brazilians is what is helping them overcome the recession, or if the recession is what pushed them to be more innovative, there is no doubt that Brazil has more to offer than a world-famous Carnival.