As Bolivia and other Latin American nations strive to begin mass COVID-19 vaccination in the first half of 2021, Bolivia’s growing technology scene will be key to economic recovery. Because while many businesses in the country were forced to shut due to restrictions imposed to avoid the spread of the virus, others survived and adapted to the ‘new normal’ in doing business. Here three Bolivia tech companies that have fared well and can be expected to continue to grow after the pandemic are highlighted.
While doing business in Bolivia often doesn’t attract as much attention as investing in one of its neighbors, the Andean country has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America over the past decade. Bolivia has maintained consistent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in that time, rising as high as 6.8% per year and never dropping below 3.4% between 2008 and 2018, according to the World Bank.
With a population of 11.5 million, Bolivia is of the least-populated nations in South America. The country offers an unsaturated market with enormous potential for foreign companies looking to invest in sectors such as hydrocarbons, mining, natural resources, transport, and communication.
Bolivia’s top exports include oil and gas, zinc, ore, gold, and other precious metals, and soybean meal, and the country is in the process of accession to the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), a political and economic bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
If you are considering entering the Bolivian market, learning about the three Bolivia tech companies to watch after the COVID-19 pandemic might provide you with valuable ideas on how to maximize your commercial success. Or feel free to contact us now.
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The impact of the pandemic on Bolivian business
Due to the lockdowns and restrictions imposed to counteract the contagion of COVID-19 in Bolivia, about 39% of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) were forced to close, increasing informality and unemployment figures in the country. Nestor Conder, president of the Bolivian Confederation of Micro and Small Business (Conamype), stated during an interview published in September that SMEs in Bolivia were practically bankrupt due to the economic crisis. By July 2020, Bolivia had reached an unemployment rate of 11.8%, according to figures published by the National Institute of Statistics of Bolivia (INE).
Likewise, according to figures from the Center for Labor and Agrarian Development (CEDLA), due to the pandemic, the urban unemployment rate in Bolivia increased from 4.2% to 7.4%, and informality reached 80% of the economically active population. In addition, according to a report published by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the economic sectors most affected by the pandemic include the service sector, tourism, restaurants, commerce, transportation, and fashion.
According to the World Bank, it was estimated that in 2020 the Bolivian economy contracted by 7.3%. Meanwhile poverty, based on the number of people living on $5.50 (all figures in USD) or less per day, increased by about nine percentage points to reach 31%.
Bolivian industries that saw growth during the pandemic
In March 2020, the Bolivian government decreed the suspension of face-to-face classes in public and private institutions, as well as the suspension of unessential attendance at offices. This situation forced Bolivians to hire internet providers or acquire internet plans with a higher internet speed to continue with their lives under the restrictions of a quarantine.
Eduardo Trigo, president of the Bolivian Telecommunications Chamber (Catelbo), declared in an interview with local news portal Bolivia Emprende, that mobile internet consumption in the country increased by 40% during 2020. In addition, the telephony company Viva, registered an increase in demand for internet services of 22%, compared to 2019.
The e-commerce sector in Bolivia also grew considerably during the quarantine. Multicenter — the most used e-commerce platform in Bolivia — reached more than 300,000 new registered users between March and April 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. In the same way, virtual transactions registered by Multicenter grew by 210%.
The pharmaceutical industry also reported growth in sales during the pandemic, due to the high demand for cleansing products and masks to protect against the spread of the virus.
3 Bolivia tech companies that will emerge stronger after the pandemic
The following Bolivia tech companies grew during the pandemic and are expected to continue on their upward trajectories in 2021:
Yaigo is a Bolivian delivery company founded in 2015, which became a highly relevant company in the country because it covers the growing delivery services demand in the main cities of the country. Yaigo was founded by Carlos Barrera, Saul Paniagua, and Ariel Valverde, who sought to offer the Bolivian public an innovative solution for the delivery of different products.
During the pandemic, Yaigo’s services became crucial to meeting the needs of many Bolivians, since local restaurants could only sell their products through home delivery services. While the app was also used extensively for delivery of other products. This enterprise had impressive growth during 2020, expanding to to the likes of El Salvador, Mexico, and Paraguay.
Creotec is a Bolivian company dedicated to the manufacture of personalized prostheses using 3D printing technology for people with disabilities and limited economic resources. During the pandemic, hospitals in Bolivia required respirators for patients infected with the coronavirus. Creotec, through its ‘Meditec‘ program, promoted the manufacture of low-cost artificial respirators to help save more people infected by COVID-19.
Creotec manufactured a mechanical ventilator able to be cheaply reproduced, and which not only received orders from countries in Latin America, but also Europe and North America.
Ruralstock is a Bolivian company focused on the country’s agricultural sector, providing a virtual marketplace through its online platform. Ruralstock offers products and services related to the raising of farm animals, agricultural machinery and equipment, and various other rural supplies. Any Bolivian company or person interested in selling or acquiring products related to the rural sector, can register and access the platform for free.
Biz Latin Hub can support you in doing business in Bolivia
At Biz Latin Hub, our team of experienced market entry specialists is equipped to help you enter the Bolivian market and take advantage of the country’s growing technology scene. With our comprehensive portfolio of corporate legal, accounting, and back-office services, our multilingual team is equipped to provide excellence and guarantee the success of your business expansion into the country.
Get in touch with us today today to discuss the assistance that you need.
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