The Noble Birth and Costly Death of Early Venture Capitalism in Latin America

In 1963, Senator Jacob Javits proposed that the world’s business community join together to form a new corporation that would underwrite private sector investments throughout Latin America. He presented his ideas to a NATO parliamentary meeting in Paris. His proposal was endorsed by the delegates, who passed a resolution recommending that the Secretaries-General of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) give their support.

A task force was created and funded by the Ford Foundation, led by George S. Moore, President of the First National City Bank (now Citibank), Hermann Abs of Germany’s Deutsche Bank and Gianni Agnelli of Fiat, among others. Javits was able to corral 240 of the world's largest corporations into forming an investment vehicle to do economic development in Latin America. Unfortunately, the structure of the venture became less like an investment company and more like a social club, a fact that would debilitate shareholder resolve just when it was most needed.

This book is about how the Senator's dream faded as ADELA's unfettered enthusiasts invested -- increasingly with borrowed money -- in new ventures that would require years of good luck to prosper. Then the advent of Latin America's lost decade of the 1980s, precipitated by the Arab-Israeli war of 1973, spooked ADELA's creditor banks into closing it down. This book is the story of ADELA.