Archive for the Business & Trade Category

Latin America is a blind spot

Posted in Business & Trade with tags , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by Boris Ekner

The world economy is fully globalized but Latin America is still an isolated island of the world.

These days’ business and trade are done without limiting borders. Internet has become as important as electricity, gasoline and physical transportation. Despite all that, there are parts of the world that still are financially isolated. Latin America is one of them.

On the Latin American continent business is handled as if it’s still a domestic market. Latin Americans do business with Latin Americans. This is not a way to develop a growing business. Remember – No one gets rich when we wash each other’s shirts.

Latin America stretches from Mexico in the north through the tiny countries of Central America to Chile and Argentina in the South. In 2010 the continent harbored 589 million people, 8,5% of the world’s population. It’s no doubt that this is a big domestic market even though it’s handled as a domestic one.

But pure size is not enough for a positive financial growth and social development.

The lack of development has several reasons.

  • This is a market that has been used and exploited by stronger forces in the past. And a lot of the Latin American countries are still considered the back yard playground of the US.
  • Lack of non-corrupt politicians and business owners is still a huge problem in most of the countries.
  • Lacking efforts from the governments to respect human property as well as human life has made the Latin American culture a breeding ground for egoism creating a very selfish population. As a consequence law enforcement is low if not none and one expects to encounter corruption and bribes in every level of the society.
  • General education is low. The majority of the vast indigenous populations are still illiterate. The ruling governments have little or no interest in educating the entire population.

Some of the Latin American countries have managed to provide a few improvements. Here Argentina and Brazil stands out. They have understood that in order to grow enhanced export is needed. Argentina and Brazil exports cars and oil and it looks like they use the profits to benefit their countries.

But most of the countries of the continent are still far behind the rest of the world. When Europe, North America and Asia discuss investments in high-speed railroad transportation some countries in Latin America still don’t even have a railroad. When Europe talks about environmentally friendly accords the subject is not even understood in most Latin American countries, and the deadly global warming problem is laughed at. When discussing macro- or national economy with business leaders as well as politicians it’s obvious that they never studied the subject nor understands its importance for a country’s development and improvement.

When comparing business culture in Latin America with others it’s soon obvious that the lack of professionalism in Latin America comes from lack of education. And as always with people lacking education most have little or no understanding of the benefits.

The educated population is highly focused within their profession with little or no understanding of what’s the best for the country. Lack to understand the macro economy limits the will and urge of progress.

Most of the Latin American countries could easily develop to be a major financial power in the world. Latin America has the geographical benefit as well as the cheap labor force. These countries could, with a bit of effort, out-concur some Asian countries and attract manufacturing businesses in order to create a society that provided education, infrastructure, health care and security for its populations. But the drive to do so is absent.

So far these countries are trapped within their macho culture and low interest of understanding what drives a progress forward.

Here Guatemala serves as a good example. The country has 34 volcanoes that pretty easily could be used to produce electricity in geothermal power plants. Energy production is the first necessity to cultivate if any progress what so ever should be considered. At this day Guatemala imports electricity from Mexico. It’s like importing sand to Sahara.

The demand for electricity in the region is estimated to increase with 70% by 2030. With a high numeral of geothermal power plants Guatemala could be the major clean energy producer in the region. But the politicians are all focused on benefitting themselves and shows no, or close to no, interest in doing well for the country or for its population.

If we look at the developed countries we find that they have invested effort, time and money in education. Here the Indian and Chinese governments act as good examples of development. For the last decades each of the two has produced 1.5 million engineers annually since they know that the average engineer produces jobs for 7 more people. The same educational efforts were made in Europe and Japan after WW2. And the constructive results speak for themselves.

Some say that Latin America never can do as the developed countries. Latin America is poor and can’t do as the rich one’s do. This is an argument that is caught in the thought that nothing can change not realizing that all countries have been poor once.  At the same time the argument displays lack of knowledge of macroeconomics as well as history. The developed countries didn’t become rich by accident or by chance. They became what they are by working towards a mutual vision of a better future.

No one of the developed countries had an easy journey. All of them had to work hard and no one gave up along the way. Nothing was taken for granted. Nothing was given for free. No contributions, no donations, no alms were handed out to them. They worked for it and the reward was a better life for their children than for them selves.

There’s no doubt that Latin America would see the same financial and social benefits as the rest of the countries that have made the journey from poor to rich if the governments of the continent decided to take the same path. Today Latin America is a blank spot and an isolated island on the financial business markets of the world. And it will continue to be so until a leader steps forward and begins working for a change.

Boris Ekner

iPhone and Guatemala

Posted in Business & Trade, Random Topics with tags , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Boris Ekner

I’ve had problems with my jailbroken iPhone for some days now. Suddenly I discovered that it couldn’t send regular text messages. So we went to my carrier Claro this weekend to see if they could be of any assistance. Just so you know – Claro is the biggest cell phone company in Latin America.

At the customer service at Oakland Mall a guy had a look at it. First he said it was the SIM card that needed to be replaced at our expense. I refused unless he gave me proof that it was the case. After some arguments he agreed upon using his own SIM card to give it a try. I handed him my iPhone and he began to turn it around several times with a big question mark all over his face. The poor guy didn’t even know how to get the SIM card out! I showed the ignorant how to get it done. The test with his SIM card gave nothing. My card was OK.

Then he told us that I had exceeded the monthly limit of 350 text messages and that’s the reason I couldn’t send any new ones. But I knew I hadn’t sent more than a few txt-messages since I mostly use WhatsApp. He later admitted I was right.

We left the ignorant fool to his destiny.

Lesson learned;
No. 1: Don’t trust anyone who can’t admit they no nothing about your device.
No. 2: Don’t trust anyone who can’t get the SIM card out of your phone.

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