On Thursday, SoftBank announced the launch of the SoftBank Innovation Fund, a $5 billion tech fund investing in startups throughout Latin America, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
According to the company’s statement, the fund will specifically start in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. It will focus on covering e-commerce, digital financial services, healthcare, mobility, and insurance.
The fund will be headed by former Sprint CEO and Bolivian native, Marcel Claure.
“Growing up in Latin America I witnessed firsthand the creativity and passion of the people,” Claure said. “There is so much innovation and disruption taking place in the region, and I believe the business opportunities have never been stronger. The SoftBank Innovation Fund will become a major investor in transformative Latin American companies that are poised to redefine their industries and create new economic opportunities for millions of people.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new fund will work with SoftBank’s $99 billion Vision Fund, which is backed by Saudi Arabia. Previously, SoftBank faced criticism for the fund, especially after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as TechCrunch reported.
TechCrunch noted that, although U.S. and European have more options and so perhaps “deserve more scrutiny”, for tech startups in Asia, SoftBank is “increasingly the only game in town”.
SoftBank has already committed $2 billion to the fund. Right now, there’s no mention of outside investors or where the headquarters will be. The fund’s size is unprecedented and totals the region’s venture capital investments in 2017 and 2018 combined, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The fund expects to announce its first investments in the next few weeks.