Back in late 2017 I spent 6 months around Southeast Asia to take some time off after working in tech for a few years. My plans were to travel, see and experience Asia (which was always a dream of mine), and recharge for whatever I chose to do next. The trip sparked a desire in me to write once again, but this time related to an underserved topic.
Inspired by Asia
As someone who loves technology and its influence, my first impression about SE Asia was that of awe. It was an eye opening experience. I had been to many parts of South America, Europe, US, and North Africa but never so far east. I was lucky to spend time in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hong Kong.
From mobile apps to fast and cheap connectivity, the energy around new startups, new funds pouring capital into different ideas, and many trying to get a piece of the 600+ million mobile phone users (excluding China) going online was enough to convince me the east had nothing to envy the west. In fact, it seemed far superior in many areas regarding tech adoption.
I worked remotely from packed co-working spaces in Bali. I used GoJek to get food delivered. I shopped on Tokopedia - “the everything store” in Indonesia. I visited the “most popular city” for digital nomads in Thailand. I took a glimpse of what was happening in modern Kuala Lumpur around tech. I got obsessed in the rapid growth of the Vietnamese economy and tech adoption. I hailed tuk-tuk’s with my phone and met local tech entrepreneurs in Cambodia trying to change the genocide-torn country from the ground up. And finally, spent time in Hong Kong trying to understand its past history and its recent openness towards cryptocurrency - exciting nonetheless!
What other places looked like or felt like Southeast Asia?
After my travels I began to think, “what other places looked like or felt like Southeast Asia?.” I started looking closer to home, Latin America. I realized that during the 10+ years I had been away from my home (Puerto Rico) - perhaps ignoring it - there was an increased interest from global venture capital funds investing in Latin American startups. In fact, large companies were making huge investments, some mergers were occurring, and acquisitions were happening in the area.
I got interested!
I began to read about what was happening in LatAm, but couldn’t really find much information. Most blogs are updated irregularly or without much depth in certain topics. I felt there’s a need to get more information about what’s going on on these countries - some more developed than others - in order to understand the respective markets.
To give a bit of perspective on LatAm. Countries like Mexico, with 130 million people, and Brazil, with 210 million people are behemoths starting to get some piece of the action. Colombia and Argentina, both with near to 50 million people each, are tech hubs full of programmers who have been exporting their skills to richer countries for years now. And Chile, the thin west country in South America, has one of the most solid economies in the world, with an ever-growing middle class that serves as an example for the rest of the hemisphere.
In short, there’s a lot going on in Latin America and we just don’t know it yet.
This is where Tandela comes in. I believe LatAm countries are set to change the landscape of the southern hemisphere in the west in the next few decades, just like Southeast Asia is doing for the east. As such, I’ll be writing about tech in LatAm.
If you’re wondering why “Tandela”, well, “Andela” means messenger in Greek and the “T” is simply making a statement of the letter “t” in “LatAm”. I also think it sounds right.
I’m not sure exactly what the format will be, but you can expect stories, articles, and/or snippets of the future published once a week, or when I obtain enough relevant information to share.
With that end, I hope to be as insightful as possible to the curious about tech being used in other parts of the world, specifically Latin America.
If you know anyone who has information or would like to contribute in either English or Spanish, please forward this story/email or tell them to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on twitter: @ramoncacho.