Christine Kenna, IGNIA: Building the Foundation of Mexico’s Venture Capital Industry, Ep 117

Christine Kenna could not have predicted that a consulting gig in Mexico City would lead her into building an entire career in investing in Latin America. Although Christine is originally from Palo Alto, she has been working and investing in Mexico since 2006. Over the years she has been a huge proponent of women investors and entrepreneurs creating initiatives like Women in Private Equity and Venture Capital in Mexico and Mujeres Invirtiendo.

Now, Christine is a Partner at IGNIA, a venture capital firm based in Mexico City where she invests in companies that are serving the emerging middle class of the region. They focus on companies that are expanding into LatAm or are based in LatAm and are growing within the region.

I sat down with Christine to talk about how she ended up in Latin America and how her perception of venture capital completely changed when she started working at IGNIA. We also discuss how the industry in Latin America has changed since she arrived in 2006, and the benefits of being a woman in the venture capital and tech industries. 

Getting into Venture Capital

Growing up, Christine had never pictured herself working in venture capital. She was actually put off by common misconceptions of the industry. However, she was always very intrigued by what was happening in Silicon Valley in terms of growth and innovation. She quickly became fascinated by how high growth startups could change lives, but only saw herself on the operating side for the rest of her career. That is until she met IGNIA.

Listen to this episode of Crossing Borders to find out what it was like working with IGNIA during the early days of LatAm’s venture capital ecosystem.

What it takes to be an investor in LatAm

Christine explains that the opportunity in Latin America in 2006 was big. But with today’s infrastructure, the opportunity is even bigger. With 70% internet penetration, it’s one of the largest global markets for internet users. International investors are starting to see this value in the region and its consumers. However, Christine stresses that investors coming into the region have to be willing to be on the ground and put in the extra work in order to help local entrepreneurs turn their visions into incredible companies. 

Learn more about how the ecosystem has changed over the years and what it takes to be an investor in Latin America in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Why being a woman in VC and tech in LatAm can be an advantage

Women entrepreneurs and investors in LatAm often face challenges that their male counterparts wouldn’t. However, Christine points out that there are many advantages to being a woman in this industry as well. Because there are so few women in the sector, it’s easy to stand out and be listened to any time she walks into a boardroom. Also as an investor, women are able to provide unique perspectives to inform better decisions and create better returns.

Find out more about the benefits of being a woman in Latin America’s tech and VC industry in this episode of Crossing Borders.

Christine Kenna gets the greatest amount of satisfaction at IGNIA when she, along with her team, are helping entrepreneurs and their companies grow as much as possible in their journeys. Christine has played an enormous role in building Mexico’s network of female entrepreneurs leading various initiatives dedicated to providing support and training to women so that they can unleash their true potential.

Outline of this episode:

  • [1:35] – About IGNIA 
  • [4:45] – A career in investing in LatAm
  • [8:37] – Changes in the ecosystem
  • [12:56] – The LatAm entrepreneur
  • [14:27] – Advice to entrepreneurs raising money in LatAm and abroad
  • [17:04] – Being a woman in VC and tech in LatAm
  • [22:11] – Advice to Christine’s younger self

Resources & people mentioned: 

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