Marcos Galperin, co-founder and CEO of Mercado Libre, talks during an interview in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Aug. 8, 2019.
Sarah Pabst—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Building an e-commerce empire in Latin America—a vast region of some 600 million people, where mountains, rain forests and economic instability often lie in the way of deliveries—takes time. Since its founding in 1999, Mercado Libre, the region’s largest platform, has steadily grown its logistics network, shipping business and hugely popular digital-payments arm. When the pandemic hit, confining millions to their homes, sales surged; since October, Mercado Libre has been worth over $60 billion, making it one of Latin America’s most valuable companies. “It’s an overnight success story that took over two decades,” CEO and founder Marcos Galperin told TIME last year.

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