Leaders from more than 300 companies recently attended an event in San José to teach this sector how to export its products successfully.
More than 90 percent of businesses in Costa Rica are considered small- and medium-size companies. In order to increase their chances in a failing economy, creating an international market for their products is essential.
“Their success is key to the country’s success,” said Gonzalo Capriles, coordinator for IBERPYME, a program that brings logistical support to small- and medium-size companies throughout Latin America.
“They generate a great number of jobs for the country and have a great socioeconomic impact on the country.”
One key factor for the success of these companies is their ability to export their products.
Mónica Mayer, owner of a small organic beauty product company, Soa Organics, says she has been trying to sell her products internationally but was not aware of all of the options available to her.
Last week, CADEXCO, the Chamber of Exporters, along with other promotion groups, held a training and networking event where small- and medium-size business heads were taught about the “endless possibilities” available to them in marketing their products outside the country.
Mayer attended this event and said she was very satisfied with all of the support and advice she received from experts in the industry.
“They taught us how to do our own taxes,” Mayer said. “I received a lot of advice and information on how to export and import products from the U.S., something I’m very interested in.”
Though her products are sold in some hotels and macrobiotic stores around the country, Mayer wants to expand abroad.
She works with local indigenous people in the Caribbean region who provide the coconut oil for her soaps, something she says is very important for her.
“I wanted to work with the local indigenous people,” Mayer said. “And I always knew I wanted to use organic ingredients found in Costa Rica.”
Her small company is located in Santa Ana, southwest of San José.
Leonardo Retana, CADEXCO director, said both the Spanish Institute of Exporting and ProChile, another exporting promotion agency, contributed substantial assistance for the event.
Both of these countries have incorporated a process of international marketing for their small and medium-size companies.
“They have increased their exporting base in each of their countries as well as their development of their small companies,” Retana said. “Costa Rica does not do well in terms of quantity. However, what we do well is producing products of good quality.”
A small company success is Navcafé, also present at the event.
Navcafé tries to focus its business on basic coffee production and distribution. Navcafé has five employees in its main office and a distributor, said Manuel Dinarte, promotion director for Navcafé.
“We’re small in numbers but big in its of the great goals we have for the company,” Dinarte said. “Our work is very much focused on the quality of our product.”
Navcafé, which started three years ago, has coffee plantations in Tarrazú de los Santos, south of the capital.
Navcafé presently roasts some of its beans in Germany where its coffee is being distributed in cafés across that country.
In addition, it is in final negotiations with other companies in Chile and has begun thinking about exporting to China in the near future.
Dinarte said his company received a great deal advice from both CADEXCO and PROCOMER, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office.
“The world is small for us,” Dinarte said. “We want our coffee to be in every cup.”
Furthermore, Capriles said governments need to motivate the institutions that support small- and medium-size companies, while at the same time informing small business owners how they can improve their competitiveness, productivity and quality of their products.
“A lot of small companies are afraid of exporting and (selling) their product (in an international market),” Capriles said.
“It is our job to let these small companies know their options in the international market.”