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COVID-19 entered the Latin America region in February 2019 when Brazil confirmed its first case. Since then, the region has been one of the hardest hit in the world. Brazil has registered more than 7 million cases so far. The virus struck an already fragile region and had a negative impact on economic growth and social development.
The consequences are clear and immediate. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) reported an increase in unemployment: 11.6 million more unemployed in 2020 compared to 2019. Some indicators show less encouraging figures: Increase in poverty by at least 4.4% (28 , 7 million more people); The International Monetary Fund expected the region’s economy to contract an estimated 8.1% this year, before the pandemic’s GDP is expected to grow 1.8% in 2020.
Socially overcrowded living conditions that do not allow work from home, poor sanitary conditions which could potentially lead to more infections, an increase in informal work, often unregulated, and a lack of access to social security. In addition, an increase in unpaid housework, mainly done by women and girls, a reduction in family income, jeopardizing educational opportunities and forcing young people to enter the labor market early, are not very encouraging conditions that cause a serious situation to become one already vulnerable part of the Latin American population.
Driven by the pandemic, entrepreneurs want to be part of the solution to these problems. In addition, addressing the challenge of COVID-19 has given them additional motivation to help their local economies achieve new levels of development and change. Therefore, Seedstars is pleased to announce the local winners of the Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 for the Latin America region.
Image: Courtesy of Seedstars.
Most companies in the Latin America region use contact-based biometric devices and spreadsheets to manage time and attendance. Organizations need to manually consolidate attendance data from log books or fingerprint scanners in order to process payroll. Due to the pandemic, contact-based fingerprint biometrics are having less use as they have been identified as a focus of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. For this reason, SIA, headquartered in Panama and under the direction of Christian García, has developed user-friendly cloud software that supports companies with time management and planning, staffing requirements and connectivity between employees and employers through an application in which employees record the data time with face recognition. The application runs on generic devices such as tablets and mobile phones. With the solution, companies should save between 2% and 8% per month on billing errors.
On the other hand, Javier Graterol from Chile brings Cuantix, a B2B company that helps socially conscious organizations to understand, manage and communicate their social impact in a simple and accessible way through special software and support. In doing so, Cuantix will also provide the beneficiaries themselves with the tools to get involved in the process and fill a gap that separates the people who want to do good from the people who need it.
COGNITIVEThe third successful enterprise technology startup was founded with the aim of bridging the gap in industrial competitiveness in Latin America compared to Asia, Europe and North America, which can create barriers to employment, innovation and growth in the medium and long term Quality of life for the entire Latin American society. The Ecuadorian company created a complete ecosystem of digital operations management tools based on IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and cyber presence to improve the performance, transparency, security and synchronization of industrial companies in the region. CEO Paúl Rivera leads a team of 4 passionate professionals (half of the women) who work to bring development and economic empowerment to the region.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announces that half of the world’s population still does not have access to basic health services. Despite increasing life expectancy and falling child mortality, access to health care remains uneven in the Latin America region. Some countries still lack adequate health workers, training or facilities. The cost of health care to the family budget is also clear, according to the economic study of Latin America and the Caribbean: households cover more than a third of health care costs through direct payments, and nearly 95 million people have very high health expenditures. In addition, 12 million are impoverished by these expenses.
Bitmec enters the scene with a telemedicine hardware and software package that facilitates access to quality healthcare. The company, managed by David Barac, the Guatemalan startup, collects data that is later turned into actionable information for decision-making by suppliers, intermediaries and governments through the integration of artificial intelligence. Clear information and data are critical in healthcare. For this reason, PEGASI strives to make medical information accessible, clear and useful for doctors and patients in developing countries while tracking epidemic and endemic diseases. It also creates endemic information that will help strengthen health systems.
“In regions like Latin America, more than 70% of clinical information remains unstructured and adverse events affect 1 in 10 hospital patients because of unclear, inaccessible or uncertain information,” says CEO Luis Santiago.
The startup developed a platform that improves patient access to better and more efficient healthcare while driving the improvement of collective healthcare through the use of data. Lowering public and private health costs can also be significant and ultimately help streamline resources and facilities that are so scarce in certain communities.
In the fintech world and with the requirement to fight illiteracy, Alfi from Peru transforms users into sustainable financial customers with the help of gamification and behavioral economics. In a region where half the population is in debt and another part outside the financial system, the ultimate goal of the company is to provide “financial education for all”.
“We know that a lot of effort has gone into educating people, but there really has been no long-term impact. Financial literacy is latent throughout people’s life cycle and encourages better financial decisions to improve their wellbeing, ”says CEO Víctor Morales.
The Dominican Republic’s The Own The Trip winner wants to change the rules of the game about how people plan their leisure and business trips. The technology platform aims to improve the way people plan their trips while providing visibility for highly skilled travel professionals. The idea is to connect personalized travel inquiries with travel professionals who select, quote and submit quotes that travelers can book directly on the Own The Trip website. The website incorporates the factor of uniqueness and personalization into the equation while promoting the work of local tourism professionals and companies and consequently contributing to increasing their income. The company, led by Avanthi Reddy Obulreddigari, currently operates in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
The pandemic drastically changed the way we learn by prioritizing distance and home study solutions, including tests / exams. And EduSynch from Brazil came in to help. By offering an online platform for educational institutions that can conduct exams remotely, safely, and on a large scale; The system works hand-in-hand with education teams around the world to assess students in a variety of ways, from high-stakes admission tests that grant students admission to universities or colleges to intermediate and final exams. As a result, this creation enables institutions to keep the student flow relatively normal and enables students to take their exams and continue their courses normally, which is preventing the educational system from stopping.
By improving industry competitiveness and productivity, delivering decentralized health services and analyzing essential health data, financially educating uninformed communities, enabling the tourism sector to access empowerment platforms and not disrupting education systems, these new businesses are driving solutions. This will serve not only those who directly use it, but the entire Latin American region. They create jobs, save fuel, promote knowledge, and ultimately these businesses, run by people for people, will help the region improve its standard of living.
15 startups from the Latin America region compete to represent their country in the regional finals of the World Seedstars Competition. From February 8th to 10th, you can use Seedstars on Facebook to see how these innovative startups are performing on the Seedstars regional stage.