“Technology and access to it through formality is the only way to reopen the economy” – Nicolás Uribe, Executive President, Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá (Bogota Chamber of Commerce)
“Connectivity is equity” – Karen Abudinen, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, Republic of Colombia
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all sectors of society around the world. Latin America is now the epicenter of the pandemic and the effects on society are only beginning. In this context, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent around 90% of the enterprise network in Colombia, and the economic effects of the pandemic on these companies has resulted in increased financial instability, debt, and unemployment. In this Concordia Live, which featured Nicolás Uribe, Executive President of the Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá (Bogota Chamber of Commerce), Karen Abudinen, Minister of Information Technology and Communications of the Republic of Colombia, and Ramiro Avendaño, President of Canal 1, it was discussed how innovative technology can help SMEs tackle the crisis, emphasizing around the projects and initiatives that are available to provide new technological opportunities to micro-entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in the country in terms of formalization, accompaniment, and economic reactivation.
With the support of the MinTIC (Ministry of Information Technology and Communications of Colombia), more than 4,000 medium entrepreneurs are accessing an accompaniment where they are provided with digital tools to manage their sales in a virtual way.
“Accelerating digital transformation, connecting with meaning, connecting the country is useless if we do not give opportunities to citizens.” – Minister Abudinen
“With connection there is opportunity” – Minister Abudinen
“The digital topic, the technological topic, can no longer be in the basement of priorities but must be at the first levels.” – Nicolás Uribe
“The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce traditionally attended 50,000 companies a year. Due to the pandemic for 3 months, and thanks to technology, we have attended nearly 200,000 in about 30 programs that we have developed.” – Nicolás Uribe
In Colombia, more than 4 million people have lost their jobs in recent months, and 3.5 million of these people worked in small businesses. For this reason, the Bogota Chamber of Commerce has the responsibility of being their best ally, and these people need to understand the protocols to reactivate themselves.
A radical simplification is necessary since the bureaucracy is an obstacle to doing business. The Ministry is reviewing which procedures are not necessary to simplify the citizen’s life.
As for informality, the great challenge is that many Colombians believe that formalizing their business will only serve them to pay more taxes. The Ministry is now facing the challenge of presenting the benefits of formalization to more traditional entrepreneurs, and educating around the issue that formalization brings greater recognition within the market.
Formalizing is having the opportunity to have a channel where all citizens will be able to get to know the product, not only in Colombia but anywhere in the world.
The Bogotá Chamber of Commerce has significant credibility in the midst of so many difficulties, access to different sectors, and lobbying capacity on public issues that allows building public-private alliances in favor of entrepreneurs.
“We must start from the basis of appropriating technology as an instrument to carry out activities specific to each business. With connectivity and the efforts to guarantee this connectivity, you can quickly implement these technologies. Subsistence depends on it.” – Nicolás Uribe
“The path to the formalization of companies must be the main objective of social policy for many entities” – Nicolás Uribe
At the MinTIC, support is being provided so that companies can easily establish themselves legally and digitization can help them break any barrier. Breaking the digital barrier is the most important weapon in the Ministry.