How to Invest or Do Business in Bolivia

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This section contains blue text links to each of the pages related to doing business with, or investing in, Bolivia. Simply click on a link to enter a page you may find interesting. Click the VOKI to your right for more.

To return to this page, click the "Business Home" link at the top or bottom of any page... or click the green "Business in Bolivia" button to your left, on every page.

Bolivia's business culture reflects the blend of ancient and modern cultures found in a gorgeous country with tremendous potential for growth and development. Sadly, Bolivia often gets a bad rap! With news reports on its unpredictable political and economic systems, and with the stereotypes that result from this, many of Bolivia's truly wonderful features are all too often ignored!

Bolivia's people are hardworking, optimistic, forward-thinking and perseverant, despite several setbacks affecting the conduct of business, trade and industry that Bolivia struggles to overcome. Bolivia's government is making many changes as the country faces these challenges.

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Background information on Bolivia

Physically the country is landlocked, as it lost a large section of coastal territory to both Peru and Chile over 100 years ago. Having no ports of its own makes maritime trade difficult and requires Bolivia to enter into agreements with its neighbors for access corridors that lead to the sea. The Andes Mountains run from North to South along its entire western border making land travel and transportation difficult as well. Its two rail systems (which are not connected) are decrepit and lack the necessary maintenance and continuity to make them a viable mode of transport.

Politically the country has “tested” several models including forms of democracy, capitalism and, once again, socialism in an attempt to find a suitable model to benefit a greater part of Bolivia's population. This has caused the economy in Bolivia to fluctuate greatly and thus it is often considered unstable and risky by foreign investors.

Culturally the country is diverse and there is great economic disparity between different social groups. Discontent among a large part of the country's poor population has led to social unrest, road blocks, manifestations, strikes and other forms of expression that make it difficult to provide the all-important element of continuity businesses need in order to prosper. In addition, much of the population has no access to higher education in Bolivia which may, at times, make it challenging for some businesses to find qualified labor.

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Some peculiarities of Bolivia business

In 2008 the US suspended ATPDEA trade preferences to Bolivia due to its lack of fulfillment of ATPDEA conditions. This is having a profound effect upon Bolivia's trade, exports, and employment and poverty levels.

For business people with great vision, these challenges are the reason Bolivia may continue to show great potential and be considered an interesting option for investment and growth. Despite the challenges it faces, in 2008 Bolivia was named the world's most entrepreneurial country. Simply put, because so many industries are still new and relatively underdeveloped, it is possible for investments to be profitable.

The key to working in or with Bolivia may be the ability to envision possible future events and developments based on what is already known about the country's political and economic environment, stay updated on the latest Bolivia news and current events and carefully plan for contingencies when setting up a business or entering into contracts. With some cautious research and attention to detail, companies can and should prepare to weather the country's transitions as it seeks out its place in the global economy, without the need to take their investments elsewhere.

An important point to note is that western and eastern Bolivia differ as greatly as night and day, both geographically and socially. The western, mountainous half has very little industry and agriculture while the eastern portion of the country is largely lush and tropical. Santa Cruz is the country's financial, industrial and agricultural capital. Its people are very protective of its wealth of natural resources and have loudly voiced their concern over any Bolivian national government decision that would adversely affect their ability to participate successfully in global trade. They are eager to ensure Bolivia's government provides the necessary environment for secure foreign investment which is why this department has headed the request for financial autonomy.

What you'll find in this business section

State Governments   Government Ministries   Government Institutions

This section provides information for those looking to conduct business in Bolivia. You will find tips on customary business etiquette in Bolivia. Are you investing or doing business in Bolivia, or have you in the past? You can share your best advice in our business in Bolivia forum online here.

FUNDEMPRESA is the government organism where ALL COMPANIES that are set up in Bolivia are registered. Its website, also in Spanish, explains the documentation process to follow to ensure your company is duly registered and recognized by the Bolivian govt.

You can also find where to learn Spanish in Bolivia, purchase online Spanish courses, or download Spanish words and phrases for business trips or contact Expat Services for translators and interpreters in Bolivia.

THE BOLIVIAN GOVERNMENT has set up a page online that explains in detail each and every type of document required for all kinds of business and personal applications. Unfortunately the site is exclusively in Spanish of course, but for those of you who plan to start a business in Bolivia or request residency in Bolivia, the site is kept fairly up to date and provides flow charts showing the order to follow for all documentation processes, as well as examples of some documents.

THE WORLD BANK also has a page in English that explains each step you must take to start a business in Bolivia. It's an excellent list that explains each step you will have to take, how much each will cost, and even how long you should expect each process to take. It also explains the ORDER in which you must take all steps needed to set up a business in Bolivia.

You should take this as a reference, and of course always consult Bolivian authorities when you actually begin the process because labor laws change unexpectedly and frequently here. Please contact Bolivia's Government Ministries or any one of its nine State Governments for more on the procedures you may need to follow.

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