Starting A Business In Colombia: 20 Expat Business Opportunities
Kyle here: This article is a blog post by an American expat named Seth Colvin that has lived in Colombia since 2006. To learn more about all you need to know regarding living and dating in Colombia, check out his website. Enjoy this article on the “20 Expat Business Opportunities in Colombia.”
Back when I first started spending time in Colombia in 2006, I was simply just a student studying in Barranquilla.
After that, I did different jobs to support myself down here since 2008 – such as teaching English, freelance writing, starting a small business years ago, copywriting and making niche websites.
Now it hasn’t been easy…
There were days when I considered moving back to the US because it was hard initially to really make it work down here and I was dumb and didn’t save up much money before making the move to Colombia.
However, after a lot of hard work, I have things working out financially down here and I have seen other foreigners follow a similar path.
Many of them either have a local brick and motor business or some online work that they are doing to support themselves.
Very few of the foreigners here actually decide to work for a long time in some local job employed by someone else down here.
And so what are some of the ways you can support yourself in Colombia?
Well, it basically breaks down into if you want to do a brick and motor business or online work.
In my experience, older people that are around 50 or so tend to go with the brick and motor business while younger foreigners prefer online work.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, which we will get into.
But let’s break it down first with some essential tips for earning money down here and then getting into 20 business opportunities for foreigners to earn money in Colombia.
10 Essential Tips for Making Money in Colombia
Tip 1: Learn Spanish
This first tip is pretty obvious but you would be surprised by the amount of foreigners that come to Latin American to live down here and maybe even start a business…
And yet don’t even speak Spanish
From what I have seen, those that learn Spanish always have more success down here as you would expect then those that do not speak any of it.
Yes, it can be hard work to learn a new language but succeeding with a business is hard work also.
But here’s some advice for learning Spanish in Colombia…
First, you should at least get to a conversational level. That can be done in 6 months. Get a textbook and use Duolingo to learn all the grammar and vocabulary you need.
Then try to also get as much practice as possible. It doesn’t matter how much grammar and vocabulary you understand if you never practiced Spanish. So find some people that you can practice speaking and listening and your Spanish will go far.
Second, some areas of Colombia are easier to understand than others.
For example, the accents that you encounter near Cali or the Caribbean Coast (Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena) are much harder to understand than the Spanish elsewhere.
The Spanish that is easiest to understand in Colombia from my experience is in Bogota and also Medellin. Also, the Spanish in Pereira, Manizales, Bucaramanga and Popayán is easy enough also.
Third, regardless of how good your Spanish is, you will probably be interested in perhaps getting a Colombian lawyer anyway for any legal work you might deal with.
Tip 2: Explore Colombia
Before you ever invest anywhere, you want to make sure you actually enjoy going to the place that you are doing business in.
You are going to want to build contacts also for people that you can interact with.
Ideally, you will have at least 6 months living in a place before you invest in a business there.
This is how I would do it if I was new to Colombia…
First, research what areas in Colombia you are more interested in.
Second, spend your first 6 months on a tourist visa in Colombia dividing up your time between those areas you most want to check out.
Based on that experience, you should then get a new tourist visa about a year later to spend 6 more months in the area you liked most.
In those 6 months, keep your eye out for any business opportunities you might see. Go outside often and be observant.
Over time, you will ideally spot a few opportunities that will be best for starting a business down here.
Once you are comfortable down here and have a plan, go down the process of starting a business in the part of Colombia you are going to spend more time in.
Tip 3: Corruption & Crime
If you live in Colombia long enough, you will probably end up bribing some cop here and there eventually.
That’s just part of living in Colombia and most of Latin America from what I have seen personally.
Since living down here, I’ve bribed a few cops myself. It basically works like this…
A cop will pick you out by random and then accuse you of doing something wrong. He then says that there is a big fine you have to pay or else you go to jail.
In my experience, the usual solution is to not appear afraid, upset or hostile. Simply be calm and be respectful as well. Say you don’t have the money he is looking for and ask if there is another way to handle this situation.
At that point, you negotiate the bribe with the guy.
And keep in mind situations like that can hit anybody here at anytime regardless of if you are doing business or not.
However, from the people I know, starting a business (especially if you are a foreigner) can make you a bigger target for a bribe in some cases.
In most scenarios, the bribes will be between $5 to $10 USD. Nothing more than $25 USD and that is pushing it. Also, they only happen maybe once every few years at most.
But if you are doing business in Colombia, you should be prepared for this.
Second, there is a lot of crime in Colombia as well. Even though some criminals are caught for their bad behavior, most are not.
So if someone steals from you or breaks your window, tough luck.
That’s part of doing business in Colombia.
Tip 4: Avoid Restaurants & Bars
If you start a business in Colombia, you ideally want to have minimal competition with strong demand for what you are offering.
And over the years of living down here, everybody and their grandma seems to want to start a restaurant or a bar in Colombia or some other part of Latin America.
As if a city like Medellin or Cartagena doesn’t already have enough bars, right?
But plenty of people have said “I will be different!” and then they close their restaurant or bar sometime afterwards because they couldn’t compete with the tough competition.
Now starting a restaurant or a bar can possibly work down here but you really have to specialize it.
For example, let’s say there is a city in Colombia that doesn’t have a good BBQ or sushi restaurant.
So after a quick google search, it appears that there are not many restaurants (if any) that specialize in BBQ in Magangué, Colombia.
In a city of over 100,000 people, you might be able to open a restaurant there that can specialize in BBQ and offer a type of food that is hard to find there.
Which brings out to another crucial point….
Tip 5: Avoid the Tourist Trail
Now you can start a successful business in areas like Cartagena, Medellin or Bogota.
However, there is going to be a lot more competition in those cities.
First, you have the endless amounts of foreigners in those cities that are trying to support themselves. You will be Gringo #596,143 that thought it was a good idea to start a hamburger place in Medellin or Cartagena.
And keep in mind that foreigners tend to bring more competition than the local people in part because they have more money and are more innovative from what I have seen.
Mixed in with the local competition as well…
And do you think this is an ideal market to start a business in?
However, when I mentioned that you could start a restaurant or any type of business in a place like Magangué, probably more than half of you reading this went “huh?”
Where is that?
Exactly. Very few foreigners know anything about Magangué or the numerous amount of cities in Colombia that have few foreigner competitors and plenty of people to offer a product or service to.
By focusing on cities like that in particular, you could make a lot more money because the competition is so low.
But that will require you to put in the hard work then – getting down here and exploring the different cities as I said is needed before.
Tip 6: Delivery & Shipping Issues
When dealing with business in Colombia, you have to be aware of some shipping issues that you are going to experience.
First, there are a lot of goods that cross Colombia’s borders that simply get stolen. The more expensive it is, the more likely you are not going to get it.
I have a friend that years ago tried starting a business with exporting a certain product from Colombia to Panama.
And from what he told me, it wasn’t uncommon for goods to simply be stolen in the process.
Then when it comes to importing goods into Colombia, you will have to pay a lot of money from what I am told to get anything of value into the country.
That is why it is much more common to see foreigners starting businesses that export goods from Colombia than importing goods into Colombia.
Finally, you have delivery issues domestically within Colombia.
It isn’t too uncommon for delivery trucks to simply be stolen from by criminal groups on the road. It is something I have read about in the newspapers down here when it comes to bigger corporations trying to get their operations going down here.
I have never heard of a small business having this issue in Colombia among those I know that have started small businesses down here but it should be a cause for concern if you want to do business in Colombia.
Tip 7: Employee Issues
Another common issue that business owners have in Colombia is trying to find the right employees for your business.
There are numerous issues that you have to consider will happen possibly.
First is tardiness.
It is very common for employees to simply just show up late to the job and I have seen it with people I know that started businesses down here and with restaurants I sometimes visit.
For example, one time I used to visit a Chilis restaurant down here in Colombia.
And since I enjoyed their food so much, I went there often enough at around 12 PM.
Well, even though they had a sign that said that they were open at 12 PM on the outside of their building, they were never open at that time.
Instead, they would sometimes show up at 12:15 if I was lucky.
But most often they would show up between 12:30 to 12:45 PM and even sometimes 1 PM.
And every time the employees arrived, they would walk into the Chilis with a tired look like they just got out of bed.
One time I even asked one them – “aren’t you guys open at 12?”
The guy I asked said that technically yes but they open up whenever the employees can manage to get there and so they were not really open until maybe 12:45 to 1 PM.
Almost an hour late.
And that’s not too uncommon –plenty of other people I know that do business down here have this issue also.
Second, you also have the issue of employees even stealing your stuff. This happens everywhere but normally you can do something about it, right?
Well, not here in Colombia. Fire them of course but it is likely that you won’t get back what they stole.
And apparently it’s quite a big problem down here so you do need to be more careful about who you employee.
Third, it is also common enough for people down here to give you completely fake resumes where you shouldn’t believe anything they have written down.
And often it can be near impossible to verify some of the details they have on these resumes given for several reasons.
Tip 8: Difference between Foreign and Local Clients
When doing business in Colombia, you have to decide also what type of clients you prefer to deal with.
As we will see below, there are plenty of business opportunities in Colombia but some are better suited for foreigners than with locals.
But there are some fundamental differences that need to be mentioned about Colombian and foreign clients. Let’s break those down.
First, Colombian clients can often be less connected to the internet than foreign clients. This largely depends on how rich they are and how much money they spend on cell phone data if they don’t have a computer.
Second, Colombian clients also are less likely to even have a bank account or a credit card. So doing online business that is aimed for Colombians is not impossible but it will be more difficult as you have a smaller group of people to sell online to.
Third, Colombian clients tend to prefer doing business in person than over the internet anyway. They have less trust in purchasing anything online.
Fourth, foreign clients obviously have a lot more money to spend but often products aimed for foreigners have more competition than products aimed for Colombians.
Fifth, foreign clients are going to have much higher expectations for the quality and the speed of the service you are offering.
Tip 9: Difficult Bureaucracy
In Colombia, the bureaucracy is sometimes impossible to deal with when starting up a business in this country.
Out of the foreigners (and some Colombians) that I have talked with, all of them agree that bureaucracy is one of the biggest headaches with starting a business in Colombia.
One of the issue is the slow response rate and lag time that comes with trying to start anything in this country anyway.
Second is the all the extra paperwork that you need to submit and the frustrating possibility that most likely some government official will tell you that you need more documents than what you thought you needed and send you away to visit again later.
Third is the endless amount of lines that you will have to wait in to even get to speak to anybody anyway while doing business down here.
Fourth are the government websites and information you will go through to try and find answers but always coming across incomplete or sometimes old and misleading information.
Fifth is the fact that, as said before, sometimes you will have to bribe someone to get things done in this country.
In the end, it is recommended that you look into the possibility of getting some professional help when it comes to setting up a business in Colombia. It will cost a tiny bit but can possibly be quite helpful in this country.
Tip 10: The Business Partner
When starting a business in Colombia, sometimes it is the case that you think you will need a local Colombian business partner.
After all, a Colombian would speak Spanish and also know how to go through all the mentioned bureaucracy, right?
Let’s ask this question – how many Americans know how to deal with the bureaucracy of setting up a business in their own state?
Most haven’t gone through that process and are not necessarily going to know how to do it better than a foreigner.
In fact, quite a few would be terrible business partners and might even try to scam you.
Same thing when it comes to dealing with a Colombian business partner.
Now there is nothing wrong with having a Colombian business partner if the person is competent and trust-worthy.
And there are a few benefits to having a Colombian business partner..
First, they might be very competent and efficient at whatever their role is.
Second, their perfect Spanish is a bonus if you don’t speak much Spanish yourself.
Third, I have heard from some friends I know that some Colombian business owners will get jealous at the thought of a foreigner coming to their country and cleaning up the place with a business.
Especially if that business is in competition with them and knocking it out of the park.
So having a local Colombian business partner can also be beneficial in that it makes it seem like a “Colombian business” and perhaps less likely to attract the wrong attention from jealous businessmen and corrupt cops looking for a bribe.
Though, as said before, bribes are near impossible to escape in this country when you have lived here long enough.
Anyway, you need to be careful and not assume that your Colombian business partner is going to be an advantage to your business.
As said before, someone could steal from you and it will be very difficult to get any of your money back.
I once knew another American down here that had a business and lost near $20,000 USD because his partner stole from him. Never got it back.
And even if your Colombian partner is legit, they again might not be efficient or know what they are doing.
So be cautious if you plan on getting a Colombian business partner.
Brick & Mortar or Online?
Finally, when deciding how to support yourself while in Colombia, you have to get into all the options you will have when here.
For myself personally, I prefer doing online work for various reasons.
- You don’t necessarily have to register it if it is not a business anyway.
- Also, your startup costs are low with no employees most likely and no office space.
- Don’t have to bribe cops looking to scam a business owner.
- Or dealing with a bad business partner.
- Issues with delivery and shipping services are gone.
- Avoiding bureaucracy
- Avoiding some of the crime issues in this country.
- Easier to leave the country since online work does not involve having a physical business anywhere.
- Can be easier to market towards foreigners with more money.
- And more….
Of course, some of you might still want a brick and mortar business and there are plenty of opportunities for both brick and motor businesses and online opportunities.
Starting A Business In Colombia: 20 Expat Business Opportunities
Opportunity 1: Start a Franchise
In my years of living in Colombia, I have seen franchises and businesses from the US have a lot of success here.
All of them are large scale businesses to be fair that have a lot of money to invest in a country like Colombia.
However, I believe normal people could start a franchise business here also if they had enough money and were smart about it.
Keeping in mind that most Colombians do not have a lot of money and only make a few hundred bucks or more per month, you will need a cheap product to sell them.
Growing up in the US, I remember all the “dollar store” franchises in different cities.
In my opinion, you could probably do well having a similar type of business that sells “dollar products.”
Now you would have to adjust it slightly since Colombians don’t spend in dollars. Maybe something like having a store that sells products at 3,000 pesos or something similar.
You would be marketing well towards most of the population that does not have a lot of money to spend and could still make a profit.
Opportunity 2: Selling Products to Richer Latin Countries
This is a riskier business opportunity as quite a few Latin American countries still have high costs for exporting goods into their countries.
Also, you still have some of the shipping and delivery issues as mentioned before in the tips.
However, over the last few decades, there have been plenty of foreigners shipping goods like artisanal goods and coffee to places like the US or Canada for example.
But as certain countries like Chile get wealthier and serve as one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, there are opportunities for business in this regard also.
And as countries like Chile or Uruguay have less corruption, it will ideally be easier to ship products to these countries without as much risk of them being stolen.
So essentially find a product that will have high enough demand and low competition that can be shipped to one of the wealthier countries in Latin America from Colombia.
Opportunity 3: English Teaching School
It is very common for foreigners to come to Latin America to try and teach English.
However, wouldn’t it be better to have your own English teaching school instead?
The foreigners here teaching English usually get paid about $500 USD a month, which isn’t that much. You would be able to make a lot more if you had your own school instead.
And on top of that, English is increasingly having more demand by not just wealthy Colombians but also middle class Colombians as well as this country becomes richer.
Especially as learning English serves as a great way to be more qualified for certain jobs down here and is generally seen as something that can make you more “educated.”
So the demand is there but also keep in mind that there is plenty of competition too.
But mostly in the bigger cities like Bogota or Medellin.
This is another case where having an English learning school in a smaller Colombian city would be ideal as there would be a lot less competition.
On the other hand, having your school in a completely unknown Colombian city would be difficult because of the lack of foreigners visiting that could teach for you.
So either you find Colombians that speak English to teach it…
Which is not as ideal as foreigners in the eyes of the Colombians using your service.
Or you aim for a city that has at least some minimal tourism but not too much competition for teaching English. Some city like Pereira or Barranquilla might work.
And keep in mind cities like Pereira will have a lot more tourism in the future so getting ahead of the curve and starting a successful school there could be a good idea.
Opportunity 4: Tour Hiking Business
Near the Colombian city of Pereira, you will find plenty of mountains called the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy and also there is the Natural Park Los Nevados.
Also nearby are all the other hiking opportunities within the Coffee Triangle in general.
So you have plenty of amazing scenery in the area worth checking out.
On top of that, tourism to Pereira by foreigners is not strong as you would expect as Colombia is still making efforts to improve its tourism industry.
And while there are some companies that offer hiking services to visit these areas, there are not too many just yet.
So one useful idea would be to start a hiking company in this area for the places mentioned above.
I have seen several foreigners do this type of project in Latin America in places like Guatemala or Bolivia for example and it works well.
A lot of these foreigners will start similar hiking groups where they rely on a lot of “volunteer” work by backpackers going through Latin America.
Now their labor is not entirely free – you usually have to provide a place to stay for them or at least a discounted price for rent with maybe some food included.
So you would ideally have to purchase a building that can have an office space for your business and have some additional rooms where people could sleep in.
Or there are local Colombians you could hire for a cheap price also.
And as the government of Colombia is making massive efforts to increase its tourism industry, I guarantee you this area of Colombia will see a huge hit of tourism.
In large part because of the beautiful women in Pereira (similar to the tourism in Medellin) and also because of the natural scenery nearby to check out.
On top of that, Pereira has nice weather and is already attracting some expats.
So get on it now and start up a hiking business before it becomes too saturated.
Opportunity 5: Niche Websites
As said before in this article, I am going to recommend here some useful online business opportunities as well.
Especially since not everyone here wants to start a brick and motor business.
Now I don’t need to explain in too much detail how niche websites work since the owner of this website, Kyle Trouble, has plenty of info on this subject, including an online course that you can check out here.
But essentially you make a website focused on a certain niche topic and try to monetize it – usually with affiliate links.
I would recommend this source of income for everybody regardless of if you want to do only online work or brick and motor business.
It’s not a bad idea after all to get a website going and make some income from it on the side as you focus on bigger passions.
Opportunity 6: Dropshipping
For those that don’t know, dropshipping is another online way of supporting yourself while living in Colombia.
Basically you make an ecommerce website that has a drop shipping model in which you buy products that you are selling to others from a third party. This third party actor then completes your order and you make some money.
Now it’s not as easy as it sounds. You still need to pick a niche topic that your ecommerce website will focus on and do the necessary research on the market for that niche and the associated products.
Then you need to find a third party actor to work with while designing your ecommerce website and making sure you get traffic to your website when it is done.
Opportunity 7: Copywriting
Copywriting is another online way of supporting yourself while in Colombia.
It is something that I started learning about some years ago.
This is where you are writing something with the intention to make sells from what you write and to get people to engage with what you wrote.
Where you learn what your audience wants and you know how to market your product with your words to your audience so that you have a better chance of making money.
Copywriting is a useful skill that can be applied to making money from an email list or from niche websites or from reaching out to specific individuals and businesses.
Opportunity 8: Call Center Training
In Latin America, there are plenty of call centers that offer jobs to local people looking for a better paying job.
Keep in mind that call centers tend to pay their workers better than quite a few jobs down here so it is quite popular with local people.
However, to work at a call center, you obviously have to speak well enough English.
And quite a few Colombians do not speak any English whatsoever or their English is simply not strong enough for what is required at a call center.
So this is a bit similar to the idea of having an English school in Colombia because you are catering to the demand of local people that want to learn English for better job opportunities.
But in this case, your business is centered around helping Colombians learn English to a sufficient level for a call center job and also how to interact with foreigners during their calls.
Keep in mind that the culture between Colombia and the US is quite different so not all Colombians would necessarily know the proper manners and how to give the best customer service over the phone.
So the school would be built around the idea of teaching English and getting people more prepared for a job at a call center.
Your classes would also most likely have to be cheap because the people looking for these types of jobs at a call center are less likely to have a lot of opportunities or come from the upper class anyway.
Opportunity 9: Social Justice Business
There is a lot of money to be made from the so called “social justice warriors.”
Over the years, I have seen plenty of businesses or non-profits offer services to “socially aware” foreigners from the US or elsewhere.
There are several ways that you can make a profit from this type of audience.
First, you make a business that buys certain types of products and ship them to more developed countries like the US or Canada where there are a lot of these “social justice warriors.”
Most commonly it is some fair trade or organically produced product like coffee.
Though if you do this, I wouldn’t recommend coffee. The market for that is incredibly saturated and a lot of the coffee plants in Latin America are being killed these years by a fungus called “La Roya.”
But you get the idea – there are plenty of products you can offer such as artisanal products or other types of organically produced agricultural goods.
And then you can try to market it well towards more “socially conscious” people in more developed countries like the US.
Second, you can offer tours to communities that “socially conscious” people would want to visit.
One of the best examples of this is an organization called Global Exchange that offers tours to places like Cuba, Argentina and have even gone to Venezuela for the “socially conscious” travelers.
However, from what I have seen, they don’t offer anything to Colombia and there are not many “socially conscious” tours to Colombia available either.
These type of tours will be best for the backpackers or the social justice warriors and you can usually charge around $2,000 to $4,000 USD per individual on the trip depending on the costs.
Opportunity 10: Lead Generation
Another online opportunity to make money is through something called lead generation.
This is where you essentially find people that you believe would be interested in a certain product or service that you are selling and then getting them to give you their contact information.
In return for giving you their contact information, you might give them some reward like free information on a certain topic or whatever you wish to offer.
Then once you have a nice flow of new contacts being added to your list of contacts, you can make a profit from this in several ways.
For example, I have heard of people taking this contact information and then selling it to businesses that offer services that these individuals would likely be interested in.
In order to do this, you would want to make it clear to the people providing their contact information that their information will be given to companies that you believe will be an appropriate match for their interests.
It is also important to have these people fill out a form that can give you more specific information about them and which can be used to better understand who to sell their contact information to.
When it comes to this form, make sure to not be too invasive in the questions you ask as you want people to fill comfortable to fill it out.
And finally, you obviously need to put in the effort to establish solid relationships with companies that would be willing to purchase this contact information.
Opportunity 11: Healthcare Opportunities
As many of you might know, healthcare in the US is very expensive and you have a lot of people leaving the US to take trips to other countries for their healthcare.
In Latin America, the countries that are more popular with this practice are places like Brazil, Mexico or Costa Rica.
However, the government of Colombia is making a big effort to promote tourism to its country and you will see Colombia in the future become a more acceptable destination similar to Costa Rica for most Americans.
And as of right now, “medical tourism” in which foreigners travel to Colombia specifically is not very big here as it is in another Latin American countries already mentioned.
So as healthcare in the US continues to not do well, this poses a great opportunity in the future.
Now you can do this in several ways.
First, you can create an online presence with a niche website dedicated to healthcare in Colombia and taking a trip to Colombia for older Americans.
In this website, you can do some of the things mentioned before with affiliate links, lead generation, copytwriting and more.
Now you can expand that and also create organized trips for Americans wishing to travel to Colombia for cheaper healthcare.
That also would be a good way to earn some money as a business opportunity.
Opportunity 12: Print-on-Demand Business (POD)
In Colombia, you often see numerous coffee mugs and t-shirts that are written in English with phrases like “morning Joe” or “always be yourself.”
However, most of the time, those phrases are in English while most Colombians do not even speak English.
Why hasn’t there been more of a push to get these same products sold in Colombia but with Spanish written on them instead?
For you, this could be a good business opportunity.
With POD, you basically have a design idea for a certain product like a coffee mug or a t-shirt and have some words and design printed on it. With a website for those products, you can then sell them and make a profit.
Opportunity 13: “Live in Colombia” Trip
When I first arrived to Colombia in 2006, I did not see too many foreigners living in this country as most Americans didn’t want to go to Colombia.
Now, there are plenty of foreigners coming to this country and a lot of them want to be expats living the nice life down here.
Just a few months ago I met a guy from Germany that was telling me how he was planning on moving to Colombia but just didn’t know how to get started.
The reality is that there is a lot of information you need to know for moving to a new country and setting up life here.
After all, why else are you reading this long article about business opportunities in Colombia? Some of you might also want to move down here and find a way to support yourself.
So a good business idea would be to set up tours specifically designed for foreigners that want to live in Colombia.
You set them up with all the information they will need for starting a life down here.
Keep in mind also that I don’t know of anybody doing this in Colombia right now. There might be somebody offering this service but I have never heard about it.
So why not take advantage of the opportunity while the competition is limited?
The main thing though is that you will need to live down here in Colombia for some time to know what information is true.
And with that information, you can make a lot of money once you establish a solid reputation.
Opportunity 14: Phone Business
In Colombia, it is very common for people to lose their phones all the time while riding the bus or out somewhere in public.
Phone theft is one of the most common problems that Colombians deal with all the time.
So there is obviously always a strong demand for new phones.
And keep in mind that a lot of Colombians don’t necessarily spend a lot of money on their phones – usually they get a prepaid phone that is cheap.
Of course, you got some Colombians that want nicer and fancier phones also.
While walking down the streets in Bogota, it is not hard to find small vendors selling phones to people that recently lost their last phone.
In fact, every time I have gone to buy a new phone (have had a few stolen also), there’s always somebody else in the area in the same situation as me.
So it would not be a bad idea to have a business set up for selling phones in this country.
Though the competition does exist, it mostly is from local Colombians. As said before, you don’t want foreign competition ideally as they have more money.
So you have high demand and also competition that is reasonable.
Opportunity 15: Transport Service
Over my years of living in Colombia, I have had to take plenty of taxis as I never liked having a car down here.
And in those times when I had to take a taxi, it is almost never a fun experience.
It is very common for Colombian taxi drivers to try to scam you often and it can be frustrating having to deal with them.
And I’m not the only one saying this – most Colombians I know dislike the taxis in their country also due to bad experience.
Also, there is a lot of risk in Colombia as well with taxi drivers as there have been numerous cases where people have been robbed or murdered by taxi drivers or bad people they work with.
In fact, I’ve known several people, as told on my website, that have been robbed by taxi drivers and I have been in uncomfortable situations also.
Now Uber does exist in Colombia but it is mostly existent and popular in the bigger cities of Bogota, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin.
One of the reasons being is that Uber hasn’t expanded everywhere and also that local taxi drivers hate the fact that there is competition from these companies like Uber.
Given the high demand for this type of service in Colombia, there is possibility to make a profit here by starting your own company that offers a similar service to Uber.
Make it designed specifically for Colombia and also do not forget the smaller cities also. There are dozens of cities out there under a million people that could use more options with services like this.
And where Uber either has no presence or is very limited.
The main risk here is that there might be efforts to make your service “illegal.” Uber has had this problem where Uber is “technically illegal” in Colombia but that doesn’t matter. Everyone that uses Uber still uses it in Colombia but that risk should be mentioned so you are aware.
Opportunity 16: Apartment Finding Website
While there are online ways for people to find apartments in Colombia, they are not always the most efficient way to do so.
First, a lot of the online websites that exist for this are websites that don’t have the best safety in mind for its users. You have a lot of scammers using these websites to trick people into sending money for an apartment that might not even be available.
Second, some online websites mostly serve to offer you individual rooms and not actual apartments or houses, which can be annoying if you want something nicer.
Third, apartment owners also have a harder time knowing if they should trust a certain client and there are no services available to help you know if someone is trust-worthy.
Fourth, some of the websites online have limited options as not as many people are offering their apartments on there due to the issues above and more.
So there is an opportunity I believe here as the competition to offer a website with better security and better options for rentals is not as strong as you would believe.
So what you could do here is make a website that is better designed and where people can post their apartments that they want to rent. Make sure you also have an efficient system in place to report any scammers and make it safer for people looking for a rental.
Finally, you can offer premium services for those willing to spend more money and wanting more assistance in either renting their apartment or for someone looking to live somewhere.
Opportunity 17: Venezuelan Food Truck
As you all know, Venezuela is having a crisis and a lot of Venezuelans have left their country to live elsewhere.
Colombia is one of the most popular countries for Venezuelans to escape to as it is right across the border.
Subsequently, in places like Bogota, you have a lot of Venezuelans living here. It would make sense then that there are business opportunities with this change.
So the idea here is simple – start a food truck that hires Venezuelans to make Venezuelan food like arepas for example.
Now there is some competition in this idea as there are food trucks in Colombia that offer Venezuelan food.
So in Bogota, while there are a lot of Venezuelans to sell food to, there’s also going to be more competition there.
However, from what I could find out online, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of Venezuelan food vendors in other parts of Colombia that have plenty of Venezuelan immigrants.
Other cities you will want to check out are Cúcuta, Riohacha, Barranquilla and Medellin.
Opportunity 18: Colombian & Venezuelan Marriage Service
As a lot of people know, Venezuelan women are well known for their beauty and are often similar to Colombian women in appearance.
If you were to go back a little over 20 years, you would not have seen too many companies trying to encourage foreigners to either date or marry Colombian women because of how dangerous Colombia was back then.
Since Colombia was improved, these services have become more common.
You have companies now that try to connect foreigners with Colombian women and companies that even try to get foreigners into a successful marriage with Colombian women.
Now you can try to open up a similar business for Colombian women in general. I do believe that it is not too difficult to beat the competition as there are a lot of scams out there anyway.
And keep in mind that the demand for marriage and dating with Colombian women is going to increase greatly in the future.
First, you have the ever increasing interest in Colombia by foreign men as this country becomes more popular and its tourism industry increases.
Second, you have a lot more men each year that simply never get married and cannot find the right woman to settle down with.
And this issue is going to keep getting worse as we have seen so far up until this point in the US, Canada and other developed countries.
Also, don’t forget men from China, India or Japan either! There are lots of men right now and will be a lot more in the future from those countries that will never get laid or marry someone.
On top of that, the dating agencies and other similar companies mostly market to men from the US, Canada or Europe. So marketing towards men from those countries can be even more effective.
Now if I were to set up a business meant for either encouraging foreign men to date and possibly even marry Colombian girls, I would include Venezuelan women in there also.
Especially as Venezuelan women have similar appearances to Colombian women as mentioned before.
That would likely make you stand out among the competition as very few (if any) companies promoting this actually connect Venezuelan women specifically to foreign men.
And with the high amount of Venezuelans in Colombia and with the fact that their numbers are increasing…
You will also have plenty of Venezuelan women then to work with as well.
And that also many of them might be interested in finding a foreign man that has his life in order financially.
So then finally more of them can have more stability in life by settling down with a man that has more money and comes from a better country.
In short, starting a business in Colombia to match foreigners with Colombian and Venezuelan women. This business can either be a typical online business that matches the two together or a company focused on organizing trips for foreign men to meet women down here to marry.
Opportunity 19: Rentals
As said before, there were not too many foreigners looking to live in Colombia in 2006 when I first visited this country.
However, there are some people that have been calling Colombia the “new Costa Rica” and you have plenty of foreigners now looking to visit and even live in Colombia.
With that said, rental prices are increasing by quite a bit.
Now you have options here.
First, you can choose to purchase an apartment or a house in a popular city like Bogota or Medellin. Both places are fine and you can still find good deals compared to the US for example.
And as prices increase, the value of your place will increase and you can also choose to rent out your place if you want in the future.
However, I would recommend you look into getting a place that is not too touristy yet but will be even more popular in the future.
There are certain cities that I would bet will be much more popular in the future due to the aesthetics of the city, the nice weather, the women, the natural scenery nearby and more.
Cities in mind include Pereira, Manizales, Ibagué, Bucaramanga, Popayán, Soledad, Sincelejo, Zipaquirá, Pasto or Villavicencio.
Opportunity 20: Daycare Center
In Colombia, you have plenty of women that choose to be stay at home moms while their husband works to support the family.
This is much more common though in areas outside the major cities of places like Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena.
Because increasingly you have more women each year deciding to study in university and pursue a career in Colombia as this country develops more economically.
With that said, it then has to be asked – who is going to watch their kids when more mothers work also?
If you want a good business opportunity, it is always important to look at current trends and where they are likely to go into the future.
One trend we are seeing in Colombia and most of the developing world is that you have more women deciding to focus on their careers instead of spending more time with their kids at home.
Therefore, invest in an opportunity like this and start a business in daycare. Your best places for this right now would be where there are more careerist women in places like Bogota, Medellin or Cartagena.
Final Thoughts On Starting A Business In Colombia
Hopefully you learned a bit about some ideas for starting a business in Colombia.
Keep in mind that there are plenty of other opportunities as well not even covered in this article.
But what are those ideas?
Well, you are going to have to visit Colombia to find out more as you need practical experience in this country to have some of your own ideas.
By spending time out in the streets of Colombia, you are going to see opportunities where the local competition is weak and there is enough demand for a certain product or service.
Anyway, if you have any questions or concerns, please send me an email in the contact form of my website, Dating Colombianas.
Thank you for reading and take care!
Hasta luego parceros,