Technology and innovation in Bolivia is on the rise, posing a viable destination to do business. Sweeping digitalization trends in Latin America have reached Bolivia, and technology and innovative developments are becoming commonplace.
In particular, the high demand for quality goods and services due to Bolivia’s large quantities of raw material, territorial diversity, and natural resources appear to be boosting steady innovation and entrepreneurial activity in the technology sector.
One of the key players in Bolivia’s market are foreign company owners and investors. The country’s foreign direct investment (FDI) reached US$ 11.8 million in 2018. This ade Bolivia the recipient of the third-largest amount of FDI among all Latin American countries.
Accordingly, market observers have noted increased investment in marketing, transport, ICT, and mergers and acquisitions in the Bolivian mining sector. This article outlines the latest innovations and investment opportunities in the Bolivian market.
Technology and innovation in Bolivia: Digitalization in the transport and logistics sector
Bolivian engineers are revolutionizing the country’s transport and logistics sector.
These engineers developed DeltaX, an intuitive platform to improve the productivity and efficiency of Bolivian transportation for goods. The idea arose from significant lack f knowledge about existing freight channels and transfers.
The DeltaX platform provides freight forwarders with more security and support during every operation in order to increase in efficiency in the Bolivian’s freight transportation. Reduced waiting times for allocation of new fees is an additional aspect of DeltaX, that its platform users can take advantage of.
Furthermore, the tool can be used on mobile phones over the internet, which thus enales quick and easy access. “Bolivia is in line with technological innovations in the area of logistics and transport,” says Luis Fernando Ortitz, the CEO of DeltaX. He adds, “DeltaX is the first Bolivian company to join the global stream of digitalization of transport services”.
The innovation was presented at a press conference at the Bolivian Institute for Foreign Trade (IBCE) and is supported by Tigo Business. Yuri Morales, Business Director of Tigo explained: “We are committed to companies that have innovations as a fundamental component and its implantation through technology”.
Encouragement to develop technological inventions
Another innovation, invented by Bolivian electrical engineer student Stanley Salvatierra, offers a technological solution for a societal problem. Salvatierra was selected among the ‘Innovators under 35 in Latin America 2019’ by MIT Technology Review. This contest evaluates candidates in categories, such as inventors, entrepreneurs, visionaries, pioneers and humanitarians. Former winners are Larry Page (co-founder of Google), Linus Torvarlds (Founder of Linux), and Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter).
As a co-founder of the startup Deep Micro Systems, Salvatiera developed an inexpensive intelligent camera that recognizes vehicles that skip red traffic lights, and detects speeding. The purpose of the tool is to conduct traffic controls and reduce or avoid traffic accidents. He describes his commitment to Deep Micro Systems as “connecting hardware and software to a unique solution”.
Snapshot: potential for technology and innovation in Bolivia
1. New foundations support technology startups
As the MIT Technology Review, mentioned earlier in the article, new foundations are focused on tracking down and supporting technology startups in Bolivia. Recently, Silicon Valley also launched such a foundation in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. These programs aim to provide mentorship, financial assistance, and help formalizing Bolivian’s commercial scene.
2. Strong software technology exports
According to the analyst Álvaro Guzmán, software production in Bolivia is a booming business. Official numbers proof a turnover of around US$ 30 million. In total more than 200 companies in Bolivia are operating in the software area.
3. E-commerce sector presents significant opportunities for growth
In this respect, the e-commerce sector increased its turnover in 2017 to 68% compared to the previous year.
4. Bolivian financial institutions are digitalizing
As part of the digitalization, 83% of invoices are processed electronically already.
5. Bolivian companies are exploring blockchain technology
Using the blockchain technology, Bolivian companies are enabled to connect with markets, that previously had no opportunity to interoperate.
6. Coworking spaces created to bring together local tech companies
The global trend of coworking arrived also in Bolivia. Bolivia Tech Hub was the first cowork in the country. It is a collaborative development space for projects related to technology and innovation.
7. Real estate startup ‘Ultracasas’ is leading the Bolivian startup scene
Founded in 2015, ‘Ultracasas’ invented the largest property search engine and mortgage channel in Bolivia. The startup generated US$ 440 thousand in 2018.
How does the Bolivian government support innovations?
Over decades, Bolivia has mainly operated in the oil and gas industry. However, the performance in that sector has declined sharply over the last couple of years. In order to boost the Bolivian economy, the government has developed new perspectives.
The main focus in the Bolivian economy lies now in tech manufacture, telecommunications, fintech and financial services. To stimulate economic development, Evo Morales and the Bolivian government have made legislative changes. Therefore, the Financial Service Law (FSL) was introduced in 2013 to replace the old bank laws from 1993 as those mainly served financial entities, whereas private consumers and SMEs were neglected.
Next to the law changes in the financial sector, the government has also set up regulations in order to support SMEs. Therefore, small business and particularly startups have the opportunity to receive low interest loans. By providing these, the Bolivian government aims to support small companies and at the same time to encourage startups entering the market.
Business opportunities in Bolivia’s technology scene
With a 4.7% growth of the gross domestic product (GDP), Bolivia belongs to the group of fastest growing economies in Latin America. Due to legislative changes and new perspectives, which the Bolivian government created, attractive business opportunities arise for foreign multinational executives to take advantage of.
Financial technology – ‘fintech’
The financial technology (fintech) sector is emerging as one of the most attractive technology opportunities in Bolivia for foreign tech businesses.
According to Freddy Arredondo, CEO of tuGerente.com, awarded as the best Bolivian startup in 2017, what makes a fintech company attractive due to is its scalability. Fintech innovation can solve latent problems in both the business and personal financial sectors. In addition, Jaime Dunn, an expert in the capital market explains, the world of finance is becoming increasingly sophisticated, creating ample opportunities in the combination of technology and finance.
Contact Biz Latin Hub to get support with your investment in Bolivia
Take advantage of opportunities for business in Bolivia by moving into this market while it remains largely unsaturated. In order to expand your business quickly, efficiently, and in full compliance with local law, you’ll need to engage with local experts who can guide your through bureaucratic process and bridge language barriers.
At Biz Latin Hub, our multilingual team of legal, accountanting, and payroll experts has comprehensive experience in company formation, accounting and finance, market entry support and more.
As an international company, we provide you with tailormade market entry and back-office solutions suited to your company’s needs in Latin America.Contact us now here at Biz Latin Hub to start your investment in Bolivia.
Learn about our team and expert authors.