Latin America in 2019: A Year of Disruption?


7th January 2019

John Price and Jerry Haar
“Disruption”, a much bandied about term during the last several years, is a hallmark of the first quarter of the 21st century. A worldwide phenomenon, it is characterized by a break from the norm and manifested in both positive and negative forms, such as 3D printing and blockchain on the one hand and the dramatic increase in populism and trade protectionism on the other.
Our neighbors to the South have certainly not been immune from the forces of disruption. The election of a right-wing populist as president of Brazil and a left-wing one in Mexico, trade conflicts, illegal immigration from and within the region, drug violence and environmental degradation are disrupting societies in the Western Hemisphere. At the same time disruption is bringing about health and scientific breakthroughs of benefit to all social classes, a reduction in poverty, and greater citizen engagement.
The most sweeping impacts of disruption have clearly been in business. Take transportation.
Uber began operating in Mexico’s capital in 2013 with 20 drivers. At the start of 2019, close to 500,000 drivers and 12 million customers use Uber each month – 15 percent of adult Mexicans. The success of Uber in Mexico and across Latin America’s largest markets is not an aberration. Today, Latin America is the world’s fastest growing region for other disruptive business models like Airbnb, Coursera and Netflix.
Latin America’s oligopolies are ripe for disruption, …

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