Story by Steve Neumann
Image Courtesy of Kate Kiewel
Venture capitalist Kate Kiewel ’15 draws on her international roots to advance global opportunities.
Venture capitalist Kate Kiewel ’15 has built a career in venture capital and private equity investing over the last eight years since graduating from Lehigh University. She has worked for top private investment firms such as The Carlyle Group, 1776 Ventures, Next Billion Ventures and Studio Management.
“As the ecosystem in the United States became flooded with capital and plateaued on growth, I started
researching the rest of the world to find emerging trends,” says Kiewel. “We recently saw the growth of China, India and Brazil. I wondered what areas of the world would emerge for investment opportunities next. I decided to explore geographies and verticals with high potential for disruption. I identified the regions: Southeast Asia; Middle East; Africa; Latin America. I decided to focus on Latin America.”
In December 2020, Kiewel moved to Mexico City and started Khôra, an investing platform for emerging entrepreneurs to build and scale new tech-enabled enterprises. The goal was to connect the startup and venture capital ecosystems of North America and Latin America to the greater global economy.
“Beyond capital, I harnessed my experience and networking in Silicon Valley and New York City to bridge mentorship, talent and expertise between seasoned founders and emerging founders in Latin America,” Kiewel explains.
“While my primary role is to source new investments and support the founders in our portfolio, I also actively look at the needs of the ecosystem and try to build where I can,” Kiewel adds. “At Khôra, we believe in nurturing startup ecosystems to create the best possible environment for building and growing a company. We believe in collaborating and uniting various stakeholders, so we can fulfill the mission of elevating innovation in Latin America. Some of these stakeholders are founders, investors, corporates, policy makers, talent, universities and aspiring founders.”
Kiewel chose Lehigh Business for her education because of its proximity to New York City—one of the top places in the world for business and finance—and its multidisciplinary, cross-college exposure. She says her entrepreneurship classes at Lehigh Business cemented her desire to work at the intersection of finance and entrepreneurship on a global scale.
“At Lehigh, I studied finance and management with a minor in entrepreneurship, which put me on the career path I am on today,” Kiewel says. “I participated in four global programs that brought me to Nairobi, Shanghai, Singapore and Dubai. In 2014, I was selected as a Tauck Scholar by the College of Business and I interned abroad in Shanghai for the summer.” These experiences planted the seeds for Kiewel’s interest in building and investing internationally.
In addition to running Khôra, Kiewel sits on the Innovation Council of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation, working to promote policy recommendations that advance regional competitiveness for governments and the private sector.
This fall, Kiewel will host Mexico Tech Week, a week of community events presented by various members of the local tech community in Mexico City.
“I see it as an opportunity to elevate the incredible activity of the startup space in Mexico City,” says Kiewel. “It invites participation from the local tech community in Mexico and some of the best founders and companies from around the globe to join.”