The Case for Colombia

Buried at the bottom of an article over on World Trade that purported to offer insights into the next generation of outsourcing while, in reality, at least in SI’s opinion, offering none, was a little sidebar on the business case for Colombia that is worth checking out. According to the article (which focusses on an Argentina-based IT provider with a large operation in Colombia), Colombia, which is rated higher by the World Bank than Peru, Panama, Chile, Mexico, and Brazil as the “best place” to business, should be a locale of choice for North American operations to outsource to. Citing:

  • passion
    and a strong work ethic
  • government resources
    and wealth in the region
  • a strong talent pool
    which is highly qualified (with over 50,000 IT and BPO professionals) and well educated with 67,000 graduates being produced every year in in Bogota alone
  • plentiful real estate
    which is affordable
  • international experience
    as a relevant percentage of the younger generation has been to, or lived in, the US
  • time zones
    which are “local” to North America
  • a strong cultural fit
    as the culture is more aggressive (in comparison to eastern cultures where subordinates won’t do anything until being told to do so by a manager)
  • English aptitude
    which is official in San Andres and Providence islands, is now being spoken by a larger percentage of the population (eventhough EF Education First ranks Colombia in the bottom five in a recent study of English learners in 44 countries, source)
  • Free Trade Zones
    which are very business friendly
  • the El Dorado airport
    which handles more cargo than any other Latin American airport
  • the Conferias Pavilion
    which is the continent’s largest event centre, capable of accommodating up to 21,000 people
  • the pending U.S. – Colombia Free Trade Agreement
    that will see over 80% of U.S. exports become duty free immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years
  • broadband penetration
    which is ranked 4th in Latin America
  • lowered political risk
    from efforts to weaken the guerilla groups while simultaneously lifting the middle class (in an economy that has tripled its GDP over the last decade), that were started by Colombia’s last President, continue to be pursued by the current President
  • increased safety
    as Colombia experienced a decrease in homicides by 45%, kidnappings by 92%, terrorist attacks by 71%, and attacks on the country’s infrastructure by 83% between 2002 and 2009 (and Bogota’s crime rates are now lower than Miami, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

the article paints Colombia as an attractive place to be if you are an IT or BPO provider or looking for outsourced IT or BPO services.

And with over 1,200 multinationals already in Colombia, you wouldn’t be alone. Plus, with Spanish as on official language, chances are that a considerable number of your North American employees will already be able to communicate with the locals as over 1/6th of the US population either speaks Spanish as a first or second language or is currently studying Spanish.