A Foreign Perspective on Uruguay as a Stable, Reliable Country

The book “Laboratorio Uruguay” goes over the historical and recent strengths that led the country to be chosen by foreign entrepreneurs to do business and to live.
Publication date: 26/07/2023

The book “Laboratorio Uruguay” (Uruguay Laboratory, in English) seeks to provide a full understanding of what makes Uruguay stand out in the region and in the world. Recently published by Penguin Random House and already in its third edition, the book makes a quick-witted and entertaining analysis of the country’s evolution from every angle. It covers the country’s recent history and describes the path taken towards the strength of institutions, financial stability, business-friendly environment, and overall quality of life, which in the last three years has attracted around 27,000 Argentines who have come to Uruguay to settle down and plan for the future.

The book’s blurb talks of “a fascinating journey through the most successful and suggestive political, economic, social and cultural laboratory of the moment,” and describes Uruguay as “a small giant that surprises in Latin America” as well as a “South American Eden cautiously making its way” in the region.

“One of the most attractive things about Uruguay is its full, stable democracy, which ranks 11th in the global democracy index, above Canada, for example. This makes its institutions reliable,” says Argentine journalist María Eugenia Estenssoro, co-author of the book, interviewed by Uruguay XXI.

Another key factor, she says, is the country’s economic stability: “Uruguay has been growing steadily for 17 years at a 3.4% rate. There have been changes in ruling parties, but there is a continuity, a set of rules that do not change, and this is a good sign for companies and investors in a world of great uncertainty.”

In 2019, Estenssoro and co-author Silvia Naishtat began to notice that “the golden generation of Argentine entrepreneurs,”—made up of the unicorns founded by modern-day entrepreneurs that quickly became global companies—was leaving the country. And instead of settling in London, Tokyo, or Paris, they preferred to cross the Río de la Plata to live in Uruguay. “We asked ourselves, what is it about Uruguay? And so, we set out on a path of pure discovery and amazement about the country,” says Naishtat.

A Stable Country that Attracts Investment and Talent

For this book, the authors interviewed several Uruguayans and Argentines living in the country, who work in different areas, such as politicians from all parties in Uruguay, including Uruguayan President Luis Lacalle Pou, former Minister of Economy Danilo Astori, former Presidents José Mujica and Luis Alberto Lacalle, and the current Ministers of Education and Industry, Pablo Da Silveira and Omar Paganini, respectively.

Other noteworthy interviewees for the book are Argentine dancer and choreographer Julio Bocca and Uruguayan entrepreneurs such as Sergio Fogel (creator of the digital payments company dLocal) or Argentines such as Marcos Galperín, founder of MercadoLibre, and Guibert Englebienne, co-founder of Globant.

Uruguay was the first country in the internalization process of Globant, Argentina’s most brilliant unicorn after Mercado Libre. Englebienne settled in José Ignacio (Maldonado) during the COVID-19 pandemic and now lives in Montevideo, just like the company’s co-founder and CEO, Martin Migoya.

“Being here allows us to have a much more neutral vision towards all the countries where we play, not being so immersed in Argentina. On the other hand, the software activity here is treated throughout the country as if it were a free trade zone, with lower tax burdens. This is a country that believes in its institutions, much more stable to attract investment and talent. I was impressed by the number of entrepreneurs who decided to come. Not only from Argentina: mega entrepreneurs like the Colombian David Vélez, who created Nubank in Brazil,” Englebienne explained to the interviewers.

Uruguay Innovation Hub

“Laboratorio Uruguay” includes a special chapter co-written with Argentine economist Carolina Gutiérrez, an expert in innovation policies.

“Through investments unthinkable for a country the size of Uruguay, this small giant has established itself as a nation with a long track record of stability, and dares to dream big. In recent years, not only has it positioned itself as one of the best places to live in Latin America, but also as one of the most reliable places for technology companies from around the world to make far-reaching investments and business deals,” Gutiérrez wrote in the book.

“Located in a region like Latin America, which gets attention for its biodiversity, scientific and entrepreneurial community and digital development, Uruguay has great competitive advantages that place it as a reference in areas of global interest and impact, such as biotechnology, green technologies and cutting-edge digital technologies,” added Gutiérrez.

Among various conclusions, the authors state that Uruguay is now in a position to embark on an economic and social development strategy focused on a knowledge-based economy. “Uruguay is a laboratory because it is a successful economic experiment in terms of its economy remaining stable and growing. After the 2002 crisis, they managed to reestablish macroeconomic stability, strengthen the currency, access international credit, and open up to the world, and all that does not change, whether their governments are right or left wing. It is a country that, due to its scale, is a good place to test projects that can eventually work on another scale, but also to test a way of life,” say the authors.

In their book they also outlined the good work of the Institut Pasteur that contributes to scientific innovation worldwide, with cases that are tested in Uruguay and then go out to the world, the case of the successful Uruguayan company GeneXus and more recently the arrival of New Lab, a U.S. high-tech incubator that together with Argentine companies Globant and MercadoLibre are testing the new electric mobility in Uruguay to go global with these projects.

“The ‘Test Uruguay’ slogan is an invitation to test the country to live and invest. At the same time, it is a play on words with testing, as quality checks are called in the software industry. Test Uruguay calls to make the country a prototyping platform, a global testing and innovation laboratory,” the authors state.


“Laboratorio Uruguay. El pequeño gigante que sorprende en América Latina,” by Silvia Naishtat and Maria Eugenia Estenssoro. Editorial Penguin Random House, 2023, 318 pages.