Colombia is one of the countries in Latin America with the biggest entrepreneurial spirit and success stories, although always in a context of difficulty. According to studies by the Development Bank of Latin America, countries such as Colombia are twice as likely to create new companies, but six times less capable of generating companies with more than 50 employees and three times less with more than 10 employees. In the first year, only 55% of the companies created remain, in the second, 41%, in the third, 31%, in the fourth, 25% and only one in 10 exceeds 10 years of operation. In addition, according to the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor), only 6% of new companies created on Colombian soil resist more than 3.5 years. In Colombia, 17% of the new companies are financed with the resources contributed by their founders, 13% by means of acquired debts, 7% are financed with seed capital, 3% by angel investors, another 3% with public resources available and 0.5% through venture capital. Undoubtedly, access to financing and capital rounds is one of the great failures offered by the Colombian entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The recent survey AGER 2018, prepared by an American multinational and the University of Munich revealed that in Colombia, 89% of people would like to start their own business idea instead of going to a regular job. The problem is that, on many occasions, they don’t find the right ways to make their entrepreneurial dream come true. Colombia is the second country in the world whose goal is to undertake, only surpassed by Mexico, where 91% of the inhabitants would like to start their own business. An extensive wall of bureaucracy and difficulty in financing separates the desire for entrepreneurship and the reality of its execution.
In fact, a study developed by the Colombia’s Entrepreneurs Association (CEA) puts the accent on the many obstacles that emerging entrepreneurs in Colombia must overcome. The most important is education in this area, since 56% of Colombians consulted believe that in higher education institutions there is not enough training in entrepreneurship.
Another obstacle is related to legality and the inability to deal with the legal harassment of creating a company in the country. The CEA considers that this is due to the way in which documents are presented to people and the difficulty in understanding them. “This is why Colombia is a country where less than 35% of companies that register do so as societies”, the association explained.
In spite of this, Colombia has an increasingly visible role in the field of entrepreneurship, with success stories that have served as inspiration for entrepreneurs from other latitudes. The ability to create solutions to real problems, a natural talent and a great capacity for resilience define the Colombian entrepreneur.
ÁNGELA MARÍA TAFUR DOMÍNGUEZ
Ángela María Tafur is responsible for Give to Colombia, a model of strategic philanthropy that was created with the aim of promoting donations from foreigners who, in love with the country and its people, support the vulnerable populations of Colombia. Ángela María is a lawyer from the Javeriana University and a Master in International Law from Cornell University in New York.
In ten years, “Give to Colombia” has raised more than twenty million dollars that have been invested in education, healthcare, economic development and environmental projects to make this an even better country. Her work has been recognized with important awards such as the BID-FEMSA Latin America and the Caribbean Water Prize (2014) in the category of Sanitation Management and a four-star rating in the Charity Navigator ranking.
Alexander Torrenegra is a world-known Colombian entrepreneur, not only for the creation of the bank of voices Bunny Inc., but for participating in the “Shark Tank Colombia” program. His company is considered one of the most important production platforms in the world despite the paradox that it has no recording studio, since all the work is done remotely.
The producer of the Shark Tank Mexico program, who offered to join the team of sharks traveling through the country to identify new Colombian talent, contacted Torrenegra through Twitter in 2017. Bunny Inc. currently has a portfolio of more than 200,000 voice actors, seeking to cover the needs of large advertising companies, the video game and film industry.
YOVANNA SERRATO Y DIEGO CRUZ
Yovanna Serrato, an industrial microbiologist at the Javeriana University, and Diego Cruz, a biologist at the same institution, are the founders of ArthroFood, a cricket flour production company that is working to create the first insect production farm for human consumption in Latin America, and has high chances of succeeding in the market. With cricket flour, one can produce the same arepa, biscuit, brownie or pancake. In addition to being very versatile, it serves as an ingredient to make any pastry and bakery food.
Their business idea has already received financial support from FAO, which injected 90 million pesos, and other organizations such as the Entrepreneurship Fund. Despite not having yet the first production farm, it has already sold between 50 and 70 units of cricket flour, through social media and on its home page. ArthroFood will represent Colombia in the final of the Chivas Venture global entrepreneurship competition, which will be held from May 20 to 25 in Amsterdam (The Netherlands).
Diego Mariño is the co-founder and current CEO of Lenteplus.com, a channel of on-line lens sales that costs 30% cheaper than the usual price of similar models. That contact lenses were three times more expensive in Colombia than in the United States was one of the reasons why the founder thought there was a business niche that could not only offer more competitive prices but also a faster and effective delivery system. With this model and an efficient logistics scheme that delivers 24 hours, in only six months the platform arrived in Mexico, a year later in Chile and in May 2017 in Argentina. The goal for 2018 is to open 30 physical points of sale in the region.