The region is generating new ideas for products, payment platforms, and more. It’s also driving innovation in the circular economy.
For selling soap in a whole new way—by adding a digital wallet to the packaging to encourage reuse
In a pilot that the Chile-based startup Algramo has been running since May with Unilever, customers can bring a reusable plastic bottle back to a vending machine mounted on an electric tricycle that travels around the city offering refills. An RFID code on the bottle gives discounts on future purchases, creating an incentive for customers to bring the same package back over and over again.
2. Ejido Verde
For regrowing the Mexican pine resin business with regenerative practices and support for indigenous communities
Ejido Verde is a regenerative pine resin company positioned to become a lead supplier in the $10 billion global pine chemicals industry. The company partners with rural and indigenous Mexican communities, as well as an array of Mexican and international organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN).
3. Magazine Luiza
For easing the way for small businesses to sell on its e-commerce platform
Magazine Luiza, also a Most Innovative Company of 2019, helps small retailers and individual sellers sell their products online by offering tools to facilitate payment, delivery, inventory, and more. In 2019, the company acquired a Brazilian tech startup called Softbox, which offers a digital toolkit for small retailers to help take their home businesses online. Softbox’s offerings connect companies to Magazine Luiza’s platform, and Magazine Luiza now boasts more than 7 million sellers offering 8 million products, a fourfold increase from 2018.
For bringing risk analysis to Brazilian agriculture to lower capital costs for farmers
Agronow is a data science platform that combines geospatial intelligence and AI to provide information for the agribusiness chain. Agronow can make (almost) real time analysis using satellite images to understand crop harvest, seeding, yield, area and volatility, generating insights for decision makers like banks as well as insurance, auditing, trading and logistic companies.
For building out acceptance of its digital wallet across Colombia
This Bogota-based company is bringing mobile payments to the country’s underbanked population. TPaga bypasses banks to make any type of disbursement or transfer possible. The app has been especially popular with temporary or high-turnover employees, such as taxi drivers or food-delivery workers.
For creating a seamless way for global companies to pay and get paid by its users and workers in emerging markets
Based in Uruguay, dLocal handles mass online payments in Latin America and other markets including Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Middle East. Companies no longer need to set up local enterprises to process payments in every foreign country they work in; dLocal processes payments and works as the merchant of record in each market.
For designing data-driven fashion and going direct to consumer
Brazilian digitally native clothing brand Amaro uses data and logistics to streamline operations. The company recently opened physical “experiences,” in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, where customers can see the goods in person and order them for delivery online.
For wooing customers via mobile apps and physical installations for brands including MercadoLibre and Maybelline
Hoopla has been a digital advertising pioneer for local clients such as Falabella and international conglomerates including L’Oréal, Red Bull, and Google. The Argentinian agency has created innovative mobile apps and immersive physical installations to attract clients.
For exporting its bioplastic cutlery (made from avocado pits) to Europe and Australia
Mexico’s Biofase takes discarded avocado pits and turns them into bioplastic knives, forks, and spoons. It exports these products to more than 19 countries including the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
For reorienting its conglomerate toward tackling sustainability goals such as water scarcity
The industrial giant (which was previously known as Mexichem and rebranded as Orbia this year) has a presence in 41 countries and recently reoriented its goals around sustainability. Netafim, for example, the company’s irrigation business, has been repositioned to help address agricultural water challenges.
Read more about Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies: