Tech Roundup: gender gap in Brazil’s startup ecosystem

Tech Roundup: gender gap in Brazil’s startup ecosystem

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: how gender inequality persists in the startup world; a new fintech behemoth coming; and the criminalization of stalking.

The concerning gender gap in Brazil’s startup ecosystem

In the wake of International Women’s Day,

think-tank Distrito published a report on the steep gender gap in Brazil&#8217;s startup ecosystem. Only 9.8 percent of innovation-based companies were at least partly founded by women, and just 4.7 percent had women as their sole founders. </p>

<p><strong>Gender diversity is good business</strong>. The study also shows that having a woman founder leads to more gender diversity among the company&#8217;s partners. In startups with at least one woman founder, almost 55 percent of partners were also women. This share drops to 29.5 percent in the overall ecosystem. </p>

<p><strong>Where are women in charge?</strong> Fashion startups (the so-called &#8220;fashiontechs&#8221;) are the only segment of Brazil&#8217;s ecosystem where women co-founders and partners are in the majority. But these firms make up only 3.5 percent of all startups in the country. On the opposite end of the gender-equality scale are fintechs specializing in foreign exchange, which have not a single woman co-founder.  </p>

<p><strong>The typical woman startup exec</strong>. Women entrepreneurs in Brazil&#8217;s startup ecosystem largely fit the same demographic profile. Three-quarters are white, 87 percent are heterosexual, and over 70 percent hold at least one university degree.&nbsp;</p>

<p><strong>Gender roadblock.</strong> Startups founded exclusively by women received a mere 0.04 percent of venture capital funds invested in Brazil last year. The lack of access to much-needed resources can be explained by the lack of female representation in the venture capital industry itself. Three-quarters of fund managers are men. </p>

<ul><li>In the report, female founders also mentioned potential investors often ask questions about whether they are mothers, whether they have small children, or if their companies have men on their administrative boards.</li></ul>

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<h2>With open banking on the horizon, fintechs form association&nbsp;</h2>

<p>Some of Brazil’s leading fintechs teamed up to form Zetta, a brand-new association to encourage the <a href=””>digital transformation</a> of the Brazilian economy and innovation in the financial sector. The initiative is led by Mercado Pago, Nubank, and Google, but has already attracted the support of five other players, as the entire sector prepares for the full implementation of open banking in Brazil. </p>

<p><strong>A place under the sun. </strong>Zetta is not the first startup association in Brazil, but the fact it was founded by tech heavyweights shows non-financial players are eager to have their voices heard in the profound transformation of Brazil’s payments landscape.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>

<ul><li>As part of its mission to “offer freedom of choice to individuals and companies, so they may have more power over their own money and data,” Zetta intends to collaborate with the Central Bank and civil society during the early phases of open banking.&nbsp;</li></ul>

<p><strong>What lies ahead. </strong>Since February, financial institutions have been allowed to share information on products, services, and service channels with one other. By the second half of the year, consumers will be able to share their data with financial institutions, allowing companies to offer them new services.&nbsp;</p>

<ul><li>August will also see the debut of a new<a href=””> kind of financial institution in Brazil</a>: payment initiation providers (PISP), which are institutions that can intermediate transactions but not handle funds. Under this umbrella will be services such as WhatsApp Pay, and other tech providers are tipped to develop similar products.&nbsp;</li></ul>

<p><strong>Market opportunity.</strong> Despite the massive digitalization process brought about by the pandemic, a recent poll by Opinion Box shows fintechs still have some ground to cover, which may explain their desire for more influence. While paper money remains the preferred means of payment in Brazil (used by 78 percent of the population), high-tech methods such as digital wallets have a much lower penetration (47%).&nbsp;</p>

<ul><li>However, open banking may represent a new frontier for these companies, judging by the rapid acceptance of the Central Bank&#8217;s instant payment system PIX. In just five months since launch, it is already used by 50 percent of Brazilians, mostly for peer-to-peer transactions.</li></ul>

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<h2>Stalking becomes a crime in Brazil</h2>

<p>The Brazilian Senate approved <a href=”;ts=1615481064271&amp;disposition=inline”>a bill</a> this week defining digital and physical stalking as a crime punishable by imprisonment. President Jair Bolsonaro still needs to ratify the proposal before it becomes law, but questions have already surged regarding how the new measure will be enforced.&nbsp;</p>

<p><strong>What defines stalking? </strong>&nbsp;The bill describes stalking as “pursuing someone repeatedly by any means, threatening their physical or mental safety, reducing their right to come and go or invading and disturbing their sphere of freedom or privacy by any means.”&nbsp;</p>

<ul><li>Those found guilty of stalking may face a fine or a jail sentence of up to two years. Punishment is increased when the crime is committed against a woman, a minor, or a senior citizen.&nbsp;</li><li>The involvement of more than two people or the use of weapons are also aggravating circumstances.&nbsp;</li></ul>

<p><strong>How to prove it? </strong>Victims must report stalking themselves before it may be investigated, but it can be challenging to prove the crime online, as social media platforms typically do not disclose who visits users&#8217; profiles. Moreover, the Superior Court of Justice — Brazil&#8217;s second-highest court — ruled that screenshots of WhatsApp messages <a href=””>are not admissible as evidence</a>.&nbsp;</p>

<ul><li>For Douglas Galiazzo, a Law Professor at Estácio University, forensic inspections of phones may be required to provide evidence strong enough to be used as proof in an investigation. “Victims may resort to notarial minutes, in which the notary will testify the messages are true, or deliver their mobile phones to the police, so they can be analyzed by experts as part of the investigation,” he tells <strong>The Brazilian Report.&nbsp;</strong></li></ul>

<p><strong>Educate first. </strong>Professor Galiazzo says that the mere existence of the law will not be enough to curb crimes. For some groups, such as teenagers, stalking is associated with bullying and the law could cause a spike in the number of lawsuits involving minors. </p>

<ul><li>Therefore, he says, the law must be followed by a comprehensive educational campaign about how harmful stalking can be, as well as public policies. In his view, social media platforms could help by “having tools to allow for making stalking complaints.&#8221;.</li></ul>

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<h2>Take note</h2>

<ul><li><strong>Digital acquisition. </strong>Software company Totvs <a href=””>acquired</a> digital marketing startup RD for BRL 1.8 billion, in a bid to strengthen its corporate software-as-a-service offers, achieve synergies, and grow in a new segment. The market had mixed feelings about the deal. While analysts believe the acquisition has great potential, Totvs stocks tanked over fears about how the company will fund the operation.</li><li><strong>Health techs. </strong>A new report by think-tank Distrito shows that Brazilian health-focused startups are raising funds like never before. In the first two months of the year, the ecosystem attracted USD 90 million — 85 percent of the entire value amassed in 2020. An example of the heated market is drugstore chain Raia Drogasil’s <a href=””>purchase</a> of a 50.75 percent stake in startup Healthbit, by way of its venture capital fund. Raia Drogasil now hopes to use Healthbit’s big data solutions to design tailored health monitoring products for other health companies. </li><li><strong>Investigation.</strong> Following the lead of consumer protection office Procon and data protection regulator ANPD, telecom regulator Anatel <a href=”;utm_source=getresponse&amp;utm_content=Anatel+investiga+vazamento+de+dados+de+teles+%7C+Google%2C+Inter%2C+Mercado+Pago%2C+Movile+e+Nubank+criam+associa%C3%A7%C3%A3o&amp;utm_campaign=”>opened its own investigation</a> into a data breach involving telecom operators Claro, TIM, Oi, and Vivo. In February,<a href=”″> over 100 million phone numbers</a> from two unidentified operators were exposed on the dark web in what was one of the largest cybersecurity incidents in Brazil’s history.</li><li><strong>Facial recognition</strong>. Rio de Janeiro&#8217;s Santos Dumont airport will <a href=”;UserActiveTemplate=site&amp;infoid=56350&amp;sid=18″>begin</a> tests to implement biometric passenger identification systems. The project was developed by the federal government&#8217;s technology agency Serpro, and will be tested on volunteer passengers. At check-in, staff from airline Azul will take passengers&#8217; pictures, compare them with a government database provided by Serpro, allowing the passenger to board the flight without having to present further documentation.

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