New technology companies are poised to transform the shipping and freight industry across Latin America.
Startups like Liftit, a Colombian provider of trucking services, and Nowports, a Mexican freight shipping startup, are angling to be the next Convoy and Flexport — at a time when shipping and logistics business in Latin America is booming thanks to increasing trade coming from China.
In the first half of 2018, Chinese foreign direct investment in Latin America increased to a whopping $15.3 billion at the same time it plummeted in the U.S. to $1.8 billion. And while much of that investment had historically gone to minerals and natural-resource extraction or agriculture, China is also making infrastructure investments — just as it has in Africa.
“The most exciting sectors for innovation in shipping are in trucking, consumer/third-party shipping options, and in last-mile delivery,” writes the venture investor Nathan Lustig, a partner with the Chilean investment firm Magma Partners. “Startups in the logistics industry have their work cut out for them in Latin America, and these sectors are the most prominent battlegrounds for innovation so far.”
Some Latin American logistics companies — like the Brazilian trucking company CargoX — have gained the attention of investors like Goldman Sachs, The Blackstone Group and Samsung Ventures, thanks, in part, to being initially backed by Oscar Salazar, one of the minds that originally launched Uber. The company raised $60 million in its most recent round of funding, but has been on investors’ radar for years, thanks to its famous pedigree.