The US government may be shutting up shop, but another country in the americas is open for business
When I mention that McBains Cooper has just opened an office in Colombia, it is often greeted with surprise and a single question: “Why?”
In my opinion if people haven’t considered this market, they’re missing a trick. What makes Colombia different is that it’s a country where the economy is genuinely working. While the US government is shutting down, Colombia is investing across the board, and it has the means to do so after almost a decade of consistent and prudent fiscal policies.
Colombia continues to impress, having made a complete turnaround after a period of depression in the late nineties and a brief dip during the financial crisis, with reported GDP growth of 4% in 2012. The Colombian government is actively seeking to improve its physical and social infrastructure with a PPP programme estimated at more than £10bn over the next eight years.
The Colombian government is actively seeking to improve its physical and social infrastructure with a PPP programme estimated at more than £10bn
What’s more, like Mexico, Colombia is very happy to embrace UK expertise to help achieve its goals – unlike the very closed shop many firms have encountered in Brazil. In fact, McBains Cooper was first approached by the Colombian government off the back of our PPP work in Mexico, and a lot of our relationships have been driven by people showing an interest in us. We are now working as a consultant to the government on its PPP procurement strategy and delivery.
Of course investment is needed in any start-up initiative. However, in Colombia’s case we believe that it is a short-term return. It’s happening here and now. Colombia is open for business and if you possess the know-how where PPP is concerned, you can immediately start to cover the cost of that investment.
Colombia needs UK expertise as much as UK firms need the business opportunities that Colombia has to offer. It has a hunger for growth, and a government fully committed to improving its infrastructure, and to opening up tourism and foreign investment. If a country is actively beckoning us in, we’d be mad not to go. Given the facts and the opportunity, the question I’d ask in return is “why not?”
Michael Thirkettle is chief executive of McBains Cooper