Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hey, guys! Spiffy here, your trusty interplanetary journalist back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference in the world! I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Cristian Raygoza, the founding partner of Iluminar Ventures. Let’s see what he’s doing to have a positive impact.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Cristian! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing?
Cristian: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! I am a venture capital investor in companies that operate in Latin America. I invest money into early-stage companies through Iluminar Ventures in order to support the growth of super interesting new products and technologies in the rapidly growing market of Latin America!
Spiffy: Very cool! What motivated you to do it?
Cristian: Latin America has historically been an overlooked market for investors targeting early-stage tech companies. Choosing to invest in the region was due to my awareness of the untapped potential and rapidly growing opportunity, as well as the excitement of supporting the region of my heritage and the people who have so often been left out by capital markets.
Spiffy: Very cool! How are you and your team at Iluminar Ventures working towards a more equitable world?
Cristian: By helping entrepreneurs gain access to necessary capital, they can grow their businesses and help their societies to become wealthier, healthier, and happier. And by helping investors who are local to those communities participate in that growth, I'm ensuring that the gain in wealth isn't just captured by foreign investors.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone by Iluminar Ventures. What impact does that make?
Cristian: We've invested in over 25 companies in the region since August of last year when we started, and I've been very excited to see the amazing progress the founders I've backed have made so far!
Spiffy: Congrats on that early success! Tell me about a startup or project you’ve worked with that exemplifies the impact you’re striving to make.
Cristian: Thanks! And sure. For starters, issues around access and inclusion are even more pronounced in Latin America than in the US. Infrastructure enabling things like education and access to the internet are less readily available. Siglo, a company I invested in late last year, aims to solve this problem by providing low-cost internet access for customers outside of wealthier, core urban markets. Companies like Siglo make it easier for the communities in Latin America to access a variety of important services and resources that we often take for granted in more developed economies.
Spiffy: Thanks again for speaking with me today, Cristian—it’s been an honor!
Cristian Raygoza is the founding partner of Iluminar Ventures and a venture partner at Gaingels. He lives in San Francisco and Mexico City and is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he studied Economics. (Nominated by the Ladderworks team. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 11, 2022.)