Medellin, US foundation looks to create new digital futures 

By Katie Konyn October 31, 2023

Colombia’s economic indicators paint a complex picture for 2023. Inflation in the country had risen until reaching a peak in March of 13.4%, while debt as a proportion of GDP increased to 55.3% the subsequent month. 

Yet, it’s also true that unemployment rates fell to under 10% for the first time in the country’s history, and that inflation is expected to ease significantly.

In order to ensure a successful recovery of the economy, Colombia will need a combination of private support and well-executed public services that both back individual citizens and the country’s overall GDP growth. 

While the country’s rich natural resources offer a potential route for growth, this also comes with an environmental cost and potential reputational damage on the global stage. In contrast, a renewed focus on the digital economy offers a way to unlock sustainable long-term growth, create employment opportunities in a range of disciplines and develop tech innovations that solve regional challenges. 

The Puscar Buriticá Family Office is a faith-driven, family-first office that is committed to lifting up communities and bringing people together. It’s one of a handful of non-profits that are looking to make an impact in the country and abroad.

Founded by Michael Puscar and Johana Buritica, the Panama City-based foundation believes that digital transformation holds the key to the country’s future. 

Life-long digital learners 

Improving access to technology and growing the digital economy can support the country’s economy and help stem the flow of young workers migrating to other countries. However, it all starts with early access and developing digital skills. 

For Puscar, access to technology had a life-altering impact. His journey with programming began at 11 years old when he was gifted a Commodore 64 for Christmas in the 1980s.

He went on to found a number of tech companies including Yuxi Pacific, Lex Paradigm (XQuire) and Oiga Technologies, and become a key expert in artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

This experience inspired Puscar to help tackle technical illiteracy by donating computers through the foundation. By doing so, the Puscar Buriticá Family Office hopes to provide children with more opportunities in technology and improve digital inclusion. 

“Having a computer in my childhood altered the course of my life. I cannot say it any plainer than that. So the idea is that if I can make the same change in the life of even one child, I have achieved something great,” Puscar commented

More innovation hubs 

While the digital economy still offers significant gains, Colombia is certainly no stranger to innovation. Both Bogota and Medellin boast thriving tech scenes that have helped to birth a new generation of startups and create tech solutions to address local development challenges. 

For example, the advent of neobanks like Nequi in Colombia opened up key financial services to areas of the population that remained unbanked or underserved. Successful tech startups like this not only help to create an immediate economic boost, but also support more long-term growth for the population.

Equally, Medellin’s innovative shifts in urban planning and governance structures helped to transform the fortunes of the city. In 2013 Medellin was voted the world’s most innovative city by the non-profit Urban Land Institute and the most innovative in the country in 2022. 

And Puscar has been a direct beneficiary of Medellin’s innovation recent policies in recent years. In 2010, a government-affiliated group called ACI Medellin invited Puscar to Colombia where his company, Yuxi Pacific was able to grow into a highly successful venture with more than 100 employees in Medellin thanks to its deep talent pool. 

As a result, Puscar Buriticá Family Office is looking to actively support the continued adoption of projects and policies that help to improve economic opportunities and enable more companies to achieve similar success. 

A sustainable digital powerhouse 

While Colombia already boasts a burgeoning tech scene, a global drop in venture capital funding has inevitably affected how easily local startups can attract foreign investment. For Puscar this highlights how much value experienced founders and tech experts can offer to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Mentorship opportunities are one way that Puscar aims to leverage in order to help mature the tech economy regionally. 

By acting as mentors, experienced entrepreneurs like Puscar can share key learnings that will help local founders attract funding, create valuable products and build high-growth teams.

Colombia has the potential to become a digital powerhouse with an internationally competitive offering. The continued adoption of digital technologies and innovation will be key to achieving a brighter future with economic stability. 

Featured photo of Michael Puscar

This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company