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Let’s Meet Luisa Ribeiro. The “Lady Tech” who's transforming the Brazilian Startup Scene

luisa ribeiro

Luisa Ribeiro is ready to change the face of the Brazilian startup scene. Brazil is the main economy in Latin America and the country is ranking at the first place in LatAm’s startup scene because of the size of the market, tech adoption, regulation changes, the pandemic, and, why not, momentum.

In this framework Luisa Ribeiro, better known as “Miss Tech'', a Rio de Janeiro native, is vowing to change that as a female entrepreneur in the nascent tech startup scene.

So, let's find out more about this World Economic Forum ‘Young Global Leader!’. Her motto? “A startup can only think about one very good single function during the acceleration process”.

Let’s Start From the Beginning, Who is Leading Brazil’s Digital Revolution?

Brazil is the major economy in South America, which makes the country a strategic player in the global market.

With a population of over 220 million, more than half of which are connected to the internet by smartphones, Brazil is also the largest fintech hub in that area. Digital banking is driving this unexpected growth.

According to data released by Global Index, there are still about 48 million unbanked Brazilians, yet these people move almost $ 240 billion of the national economy per year. An important fact that makes us understand the reason for the rapid rise of the fintech sector in a country where the banking system is described as too traditional.

Despite contradictions, Brazil is moving fast in cryptocurrencies too making Brazil the most ‘sophisticated’ crypto market in Latin America, experts say.

According to Chainanalysis, Brazilian investors acquired around USD 140 billion in cryptocurrencies between January and December last year. This impressive number makes Brazil the largest crypto market in Latin America and the 11th biggest in the world, ahead of countries such as Japan, Australia, and the Netherlands. In this framework, a new wave of young entrepreneurs are leading the Brazilian digital finance revolution. And Luisa Ribeiro is the forerunner.

Rebeiro Founded and Led two of Brazil’s Most Prominent Start-up Accelerators, Papaya Ventures and Gema Ventures

Today Luisa Rebeiro is leading Gema Ventures; a B2B focussed startup accelerator, based in São Paulo. However, this is Miss Tech’s second venture, after founding Papaya in 2012 – one of the first accelerators in the country focused on mobile startups.

Today, Luisa is the only woman leading an accelerator that has been selected by Startup Brasil (the state-sponsored acceleration program), to receive government funding and join their prestigious program.

And that’s why is international known as the “Miss Tech”.

She also served as CEO of Recode/CDI Global, a pioneer organization in the cause of digital inclusion, with 800 centres in its network across 8 countries, having impacted 1.7 million lives.

Previously, Luisa worked at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris creating innovation policies for Latin America.

She also served as a consultant in Accenture Brazil, and worked at Cantillon Capital Management, a hedge fund in London. Ù

Luisa holds a BA degree in Engineering from PUC-Rio and MBA from INSEAD, and leadership programs in Harvard and Oxford University. She was named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and Rising Talent by the Women's Forum for Economy & Society.

From her experiences outboard, Ribeiro gained an international outlook that gave her a fresh and broader vision into an emerging industry, once backed in Brazil. However, Luisa gained success in a notoriously difficult field by starting two of the most innovative accelerators by herself.

Not a bad feat for a woman barely in her thirties.

Brazil women in tech

Brazil is undoubtedly a country with great challenges, but it also has so many opportunities that are there to be explored. Especially in the fintech environment.

However, Brazil is a country that has a lot of women in leadership roles despite outwardly having somewhat of a “macho” culture.

Over the last five years, female participation in Brazil’s technology market has grown by 60 percent: from 27,900 women in 2015 to 44,500 in 2020, according to data from the General Registry of Employed and Unemployed People.

Ana Ferraz reported how “between January and May last year, the National Employment Data Bank (BNE) identified 12,716 female candidates for technology jobs, around 2,300 more than in the same period last year.

These figures - said Ferraz - indicate that the country’s tech market is becoming more accessible to women. However, other studies point out that the road to equality in the sector is still long”.

As stated by Ribeiro, “in many homes, especially in the less affluent ones, the contribution of the woman’s work towards the family´s income is crucial”.

Also, Brazil ranks high with the number of women entrepreneurs in the world which is great! However, in executive positions at large companies, the reality is not the same.

“I see a lot of action on the part of these companies to increase the number of women leaders by putting in place flexible working hours, prolonged maternity leave and the like. I think all these initiatives are going to be key to continuing to foster female leadership in Brazil”, stated Ribeiro.