Latin America Savors Reverse Brain Drain

Why would someone from an immigrant family give up the American dream to return to their home country? The question is self-absorbed; the answer has something to do with the intrinsic lure of opportunity, mixed with push-them-out politics. Colombia and Peru afford two examples in Latin America. In the 1970s and 1980s, hundreds of thousands left Bogota and Lima to escape debilitating narco-economies. Now their children are returning home to start new companies, often in the technology and export sectors. Low-cost labor is an incentive. The endorphins that are generated by pioneering a business in the motherland may be another. Among the good news, reverse brain-drain is creating specific opportunities for emerging-market investors, given the commercial leverage afforded by the knowledge-transfer process. The risk centers on the small and medium-sized nature of these firms.

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