2030 Finance | July 3, 2018

The Puerto Rico opportunity: Urgent, tech-ready and women-led

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

ImpactAlpha, July 3 – U.S. impact-lens investors have a domestic opportunity to invest in long-term economic development and climate action.

In Puerto Rico, roughly 135,000 people have left since last year’s back-to-back Category 4 hurricanes. Unemployment remains around 12%. Nearly 60% of small businesses have closed, at least temporarily.

It’s also a burgeoning tech hub, tourist haven and maintains strong connection with its diaspora on the mainland.

One group of opportunity-spotting, gender-lens, impact investors is taking notice of post-hurricane opportunities in agriculture, food, education, healthcare, energy, jobs and… women.

Pipeline Angels, the network of more than 300 female angel investors, is recruiting U.S. and Puerto Rican accredited investors for its first investor bootcamp in San Juan, July 14-16. Since 2011, the angel network has invested $5 million in more than 50 social ventures founded or co-founded by women, and has had five exits.

Pipeline already is seeing “pipeline” from female founders building tech-based solutions to natural-disaster resilience, Pipeline Angels member Karla Fraguada told ImpactAlpha.,

Entrepreneurship ecosystem. Pipeline will bring “friends and family” pre-seed capital to Puerto Rico.

The islands’ entrepreneurial ecosystem includes San Juan-based accelerator Parallel18, the IDEA seed fund and venture accelerator from nonprofit investment firm Grupo Guayacán, Semillero Ventures, an agriculture and food venture fund and Santurce POP, a pop-up space for retail and artisan entrepreneurs.

  • Latina-led. “There are a growing number of businesses led by women and non-binary femmes after Hurricane María that need support,” said Santurce POP’s Carla López de Azúa.
  • Local angels. Pipeline is looking to boost the number of Latina angels.  “We know investors in Puerto Rico have money,” said Fraguada, an executive at Bacardi. “We also want to bring female investors to Puerto Rico to back women founders who don’t have friends and family money.”
  • Tech-ready. Before the hurricanes, tech companies like Infosys, Honeywell and Fusionworks had data centers and offices in San Juan.

“Having Pipeline Angels launch in Puerto Rico will help transform the economic landscape by mobilizing more capital for Boricuan founders,” added Santurce POP’s de Azúa.