Africa and the Middle East

Changing the Way the US Invests in Colombia

December 11, 2013

Aspen delegates join the Latin America Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (LAVCA) for a breakfast conversation on impact and angel investing with high net worth individuals and family foundations in Medellin. (Photo Credit: Mickey Bergman/The Aspen Institute)

The Aspen Institute Global Alliances Program (GAP) — which operates as a platform for convening public and private sector stakeholders around global development challenges — recently led a delegation of 15 entrepreneurs, investors, and Colombian Diaspora to Bogota and Medellín, Colombia. The action-packed trip consisted of 5 days of engaged dialogue and strategic collaboration around the challenges and opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship in the region.

Organizations hosting the delegation included the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Tourism’s iNNpulsa Colombia program, as well as Ruta N in Medellin, the US Embassy in Bogota and the Colombian government’s private sector tech partner .CO. The US Department of State’s Special Representative for Global Partnerships Andrew O’Brien helped lead the delegation, along with representatives from the Office of the Global Partnerships Initiative. 

Among other successes, the Institute’s delegation served as a launch pad for the US State Department’s Small Business Network of the Americas initiative in Colombia, while paving the way for various other projects, partnerships, and face-to-face exchanges. To date, three direct investments have already been made in Colombia’s small and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem as a result of these conversations between delegates, entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, and impact fund directors.

The first of its kind in many ways, Aspen’s delegation marked, according to iNNpulsa Director Catalina Ortiz, “a very important first step” toward bolstering investment relationships between the two countries. The trip brought leaders together across industry, sector, city, and nation, and received positive attention from both national and international news outlets. Prominent mentions of the trip can be found below:

White House Blog: Helping Social Entrepreneurs Tackle Global Development Challenges

The State Department partnered with the Aspen Institute and Agora Partnerships to lead a delegation of US investors and entrepreneurs to Colombia…, in part to explore potential impact-investing partnerships and financing for early-stage social enterprises.Read More…

US State Department: Special Representative for Global Partnerships Andrew O’Brien to Lead US Entrepreneurship and Investment Delegation to Colombia

US Department of State Special Representative for Global Partnerships Andrew O’Brien will lead a delegation of US investors and entrepreneurs to Colombia… . Organized by the Aspen Institute, iNNpulsa, and Agora Partnerships, the delegation will advance the goals of the Small Business Network of the Americas (SBNA) by building partnerships between investors and small business service providers with the goal of expanding access to capital for small business. Read More…

Colombia Reports: Colombia Trading Bad Reputation for Innovation: International Summit Delegates

US investors see Colombia as one of the better bets for high-tech investment in Latin America, said the delegates at an international summit in Medellín. Read More…

El EspectadorUS Mission Visit to Colombia to Identify Investment Opportunities (Translation by Google Translate)

A committee of officials, businessmen and investors from [a] US mission launched a visit Tuesday to Colombia to identify business opportunities and investment in local companies with high potential. Read More…

El Colombiano: US Entrepreneurs Seek Business in Medellin (Translation by Google Translate)

Colombia, and especially Medellín, is consolidating as a destination for innovative international business, so now not only are large firms seeking synergies and ways to strengthen commercial ties, but entrepreneurs are now joining this boom. Read More…

El Mundo: US Would Invest More in Colombia (Translation by Google Translate)

A mission composed of officials, businessmen, and investors from the US, will [visit] Medellín to identify business opportunities and investment in local companies with high potential. Read More…

Rachel Samuelson is the program manager of the Aspen Institute Global Alliances Program (GAP), where she oversees a number of projects including a platform for supporting entrepreneurship, leverging Venture Capital, and encouraging impact investment across Latin America.