Elon Musk made a deal with Brazil to bring the internet to rural areas

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15.28% of Brazilian live in a rural area, Brazil population is 212.6 million, so is around X new online users. What does it mean for digital native business?

Last week Elon Musk visited Brazil and met with many politicians including the country's President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Musk said in a tweet he was excited to be in Brazil for the “launch of Starlink for 19,000 unconnected schools in rural areas & environmental monitoring of Amazon.

SpaceX has launched more than 2,400 Starlink internet relay stations as the company builds out a globe-spanning constellation of broadband satellites, providing relatively high-speed internet to customers around the world. SpaceX has regulatory approval to launch thousands more.

Illegal activities in the vast Amazon rainforest are monitored by several institutions, such as the national space agency, federal police and environmental regulator Ibama. But deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has surged under Bolsonaro, reaching its highest annual rate in more than a decade, according to official data from the national space agency. 

What will happen when the rural area goes online?

I’m beyond excited with this news and providing more people in different areas of the globe the same opportunities, or at least more opportunities, that won't be fully based on just where you live. Giving a young kid from a rural area access to the internet is building a bridge to the world, maybe even to Mars. Something that all members of her family never had access to. It’s allowing them to self educate in a new profession, to watch movies, to hear a different language, to see a different animal, on their fingerprints.

It’s also allowing them to be part of the digital economy, make purchases online in different ecommerce platforms, pay for different utilities subscriptions, provide their services to the online marketplace, get access to a doctor via an online call. Latin America wins when we provide more people with access to a fruitful life and take them away from historical social cages. 

Let’s talk about tech and how the companies that have been building the online infrastructure in LATAM can win when 15% of the population joins the party. 

Potential winners - startups that will benefit from it

  • Fintech
  • With the improvement of access to the internet it opens the opportunity for rural citizens to adopt online banking such as Nubank, Neon and other digital first banks.
  • With the adoption of digital banks all the infrastructure for open banking also wins including startups like Belvo.
  • Edtech
  • 15% of the population having access to the internet also means they will have access to information, which is something that most of the modern society has had since the early 90s. Without the requirement to move to an urban center for high end education, edtech companies that mainly provide education online will be able to target and provide services to the rural society. 
  • Telehealth
  • If you ever visited rural areas across latin america you know that finding a health center is super rare. Since covid-19 pandemic most of the coutries globally adopted telemedicine as a way to reach to doctors and practitioners outside the area that you live, providing connectivity to rural areas can potentially increase the reach to telemedicine services. Starbem is a startup in Brazil that was created during the peak of the pandemic to provide consultation online through an app to a network of thousands of practitioners.  

Closing Thoughts

There is a lot that we don’t know about this project, specially when and to whom it will be beneficial, not going very deep on political matter but looking towards the positive side of brining 15% of the brazilian population access to internet is a super exciting inclusion project, allowing rural communities to have a set of benefits that was very foreign to them. 

Stay tuned with all the news about the startup ecosystem in LATAM and AFRICA.
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