What do you do currently?
I am the Executive Director of the Colombian Association of Private Equity and Venture Capital Funds.
How and when did you get involved with the Colombian entrepreneurial ecosystem?
In 2008, I was part of the team that led the creation of the government program called Bancoldex Capital, which sought to create new sources of financing for Colombian companies through the private equity funds industry. From my role in this position, in addition of make the due diligence process to invest in private equity funds, I had to sensitize companies from different regions of the country to share knowledge about these new investment vehicles. Afterwards, I had the fortune of working for Endeavor, an international organization aimed to fostering high-impact entrepreneurship, where I was truly inspired by the entrepreneurial DNA. My role was to accompany the search and selection process of Colombian entrepreneurs to be part of this great network and also helping them with a portfolio of services to scale and growth, including the achievement of capital. Today, after this road, I lead a consolidated industry with 87 private equity funds operating, with a size of USD$11 billions and which have invested about USD$6 billions to leverage more than 550 Colombian companies and projects, in different economic sectors and in different stages of growth. Within my actual role, part of our reason to be, is to bring companies closer to the funds and help them to get as prepared as possible to this source of funding, in order to boost their growth.
How would you describe the ecosystem in Colombia? How does it compare to other Latin American countries?
Colombia is a young entrepreneurial ecosystem; perhaps in the last 8 years we have had a strong revolution from the perspective of entrepreneurship. Generally, the Colombian business ecosystem has been very traditional, referring to family companies, which usually tend to be more closed in allowing the entry of a strategic partner. However, this mentality has been changing, accompanied by the arrival of new young talent with great ideas and also of people who have studied and worked abroad that return to their country to bet on the venture. This has allowed having an ecosystem with great ideas and entrepreneurs in our country.
Additionally, this growth has been accompanied by various institutions and programs that have been developed from the public to the private, an also the creation of new alternative financing mechanisms. In particular, Colombia has differentiated itself from other countries of LATAM Region, because it started from the traditional to the disruptive, which meant that the ecosystem was growing with innovation in more mature companies and then migrating to have a pipeline of companies at an earlier stage with great potential to scale. Furthermore, our economic and political stability has allowed the arrival of foreign capital looking investment opportunities in our country. Also, the growth of the middle class has been an important factor to have a potential market opportunity, full of people thirsty for new business models that offer new products and services.
However, and despite of the fact that the various financing mechanisms have been becoming more sophisticated, since regulation, investors and managers of vehicles and programs, we still have a great challenge ahead, particularly in the early stage financing. We still do not have enough institutions to support the transition from ideation to the early stage of a company’s growth. On our side, although we have 9 venture capital funds operating, robust and complex regulation and a limited universe of investors limit the growth of more vehicles of this structure. In spite of this, we have seen how in recent months, Corporate Venture has begun to play an important role in our country, if as debt funds and debt platform that are expected to serve the entrepreneurial segment in the earliest stages of development. Crowfunding is also on the way, although there is still no established regulation so it is estimated that it will take a few more years to develop.
What do you expect in the next 12 months?
From ColCapital, we are expecting a few months of restless M&A transactions. The funds (vintage 2005 – 2008) are beginning to fulfill their disinvestment cycles, reason why a great activity of exits is expected. A regulatory change is coming for the private equity fund industry in 2017; it is estimated that in Q3, we will have a draft for public comments, and we hope this will give a new impetus to the creation of private equity funds in Colombia.
What are the main challenges?
Fundraising for new fund managers, improving early stage financing and exits for the actual funds.
What change or result would bring the greatest benefits for the ecosystem?
I believe that regulation will always be a determining factor in the development of the ecosystem, in addition of the government participation in the market gaps that persist today. Another important point is, that we are beginning to feel that the different institutions are being articulated, but it is still a major challenge to be able to strengthen relationships and take advantage of resources, to truly generate measurable impacts on the Colombian entrepreneurial ecosystem. In addition, I think we need more and new investors, willing to invest in entrepreneurship and being educated enough to understand the risks and necessities of this type of investments. Finally, entrepreneurs also have a goal to accomplish in building worldwide business models, scalable, replicable, and being more and more prepared to face market opportunities. Not only money is important, the point is to show your potential….to sell… The money will arrive!
Describe your typical day
I wake up, give myself a few minutes of silence, thank and hug my husband. Then, I start my exercise routine (I love to swim and go to the mountain), I try to eat breakfast and go out to the office. I work intensely until the end of the afternoon and at night, I come home and I love cooking, lighting the fireplace, reading or watch series. Finally, the night comes and the tiredness takes control of me!! From Fridays and on, the routine changes, where the gets away, trips and social events intensify.
Who is your favorite entrepreneur?
Kenneth Mendiwelson, Refinancia (Colombia).
A recent book does you recommend?
The attention merchants – Tim Wu.
Smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop?
iOS or Android?
Favorite social network?
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
Support other countries in building their financing ecosystem, based on the learning curve we have had and continue to add value to the country through my role in ColCapital. Personally, I have a planned trip that I always wanted to do!
One word that describes you?