Doing Business in Colombia

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Doing Business in Colombia | Colombian Social and Business Culture A Colombian Culture Overview
Fact File
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Official name – Republic of Colombia
Population – 45,644,023*
Official Languages – Spanish
Currency – Colombian peso (COP)
Capital city – Bogotá
GDP – purchasing power parity $399.4 billion*
GDP Per Capita – purchasing power parity $8,900 *

Overview
Colombia is a country with a unique culture influenced by a fusion of its indigenous Indian, Spanish and African origins. A diverse geography and warm climate makes Colombia home to some of South America’s richest natural resources such as petroleum, coffee and fruit. Though the country struggles with historical class differences, political conflict and illegal drug cartels, improvements have recently been made socially and economically making Colombia a more inviting country to international investments and business opportunities. For those wanting to conduct business in this emerging market, a thorough understanding of Colombian heritage and culture must be achieved in order to secure your future business success. Key concepts

Family – As a collectivist culture, family is the central unit of Colombian society. Close ties between extended families and communities can have a major influence on individual behaviour. The importance of family is also evident in Colombian business culture where often family members will be found working for the same company and many companies are family owned. Indirect communication – Colombians tend to communicate in an indirect and subtle manner. It is important to not offend others and always be as diplomatic as possible. Meaning is conveyed through non-verbal forms of communication and often a Colombian will say ‘yes’ or ‘maybe’ instead of saying ‘no’ to avoid losing face and maintain harmony. Time – Colombians approach time in a very relaxed and flexible manner. Punctuality is not essential and planning things to the minute is not common. Business meetings are often delayed as a result and sometimes even cancelled at the last minute without any prior warning. If planning a visit or series of meetings in Colombia, therefore, always schedule extra time in between to allow for any extra time needed.

Doing Business in Colombia

© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2007

Doing Business in Colombia
Following centuries of Spanish rule, Colombia finally gained independence in the late nineteenth century. Years of violent political conflict ensued as parties and governments fought to be the ruling power and insurgent groups became more prevalent. Meanwhile an extensive illegal drug trade developed and Colombians were increasingly accused of human rights abuses against captured guerrillas and members of insurgent groups. The 90s were a period of social, economic and political improvement during which time a new constitution was introduced. However, the violence present in Colombian society as a result of the existence of insurgencies and the illegal drug trade did not improve.

Today, despite a turbulent past, Colombia's efforts to improve current economic policy and democratic security strategies have given rise to an increased confidence in the economy and business sector. The fourth largest country in South America and one of the continent's most populous nations, Colombia’s substantial oil reserves and natural resources provide numerous business and trade opportunities for foreign investors. Understanding Colombian business etiquette is essential to successfully doing business in Colombia. Colombia Business Part 1 - Working in Colombia (Pre-departure) o

Working practices in Colombia




It is important to schedule business appointments at least two to three weeks in advance and confirm them once you have arrived in Colombia. Also try to leave a few hours in between them should they go on longer than anticipated.



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In most Colombian cities, working hours are generally 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m.,...
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