Investment and Tech in Costa Rica: Talking to Costa Rica Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE)

As outsourcing software development continunees to grow, nearshoring has emerged as a top trend in 2016. Costa Rica, in particular, has positioned itself as the premier location for BPO. Known for its high literacy rate, excellent education and stable democracy, Costa Rica is the location of over 300 multinational companies, including IBM and Microsoft.

We spoke with Vanessa Gibson, Director of Corporate Development and Investment Climate at CINDE, about why Costa Rica is the number #1 outsourcing destination in the Americas and how the country continues to attract investment from around the world.

Founded in 1982, CINDE is a private, non-profit, non-political organization responsible for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Costa Rica and supporting companies discover Costa Rica’s potential. Founded in 1982 and free of charge, they have helped hundreds of companies settle into Costa Rica and bring benefit to the country. Please click on the photo below to find out more. 

Investment and Tech in Costa Rica

1. Compared to other Latin American countries education systems how does Costa Rica excel?

Education along with the Universal Health Care systems have been the pillars for national stability throughout the years. According to the World Economic Forum in The Global Competitiveness Report, Costa Rica was ranked as the country with the best education system in Latin America. By law, Costa Rica´s education is free and mandatory since 1870. With the army’s abolishment since 1948, the financial funding was relocated to this pillar, 7.36% of the country´s GDP is invested in education.
Along with the 61 universities nationwide, the Technical High Schools have been key for workforce development in the country. 218 institutions located around the country provide technical specializations for teenagers between 15 and 18 years that take a regular academic program plus a technical training in one specialization. In 2015, 8,057 students graduated from technical high schools, of which 5,361 were in the services-related fields, including specializations such as Computer Programming, Software development, Network informatics, among others. These students have demonstrated that at their early age they have a faster learning curve and a desire to learn that allows them to grow rapidly within an organization.

2. How do you feel literacy rate in Latin American countries factor into who corporations invest in?

According to the Human Development Report, Costa Rica is ranked as 5th in the world in terms of the adult literacy rate, only Investment and Tech in Costa Rica: Talking to the Costa Rica Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE)under Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Spain. For companies who are looking for investment destinations, literacy rate is one factor to consider in the decision-making process. Costa Rica’s value proposition based in strategic location, well-educated human talent, geographic location, solid democracy and economic stability, put the country in a good position over other competitors. We have educated people who embrace challenges, learn rapidly and welcome opportunities, and that’s our main competitive advantage. Also, gender equality (including level of education among women) and a very inclusive system has been highlighted in the case of Costa Rica compared with the Latin American region and higher in most cases on a global scope.

 

3. We’ve heard great things about the Costa Rican Multilingual Program and English education, can you please explain to us more?

Currently, multinational companies are delivering more than 70 types of services worldwide in more than 10 different languages. English is the main one and it represents 95% of the top services processes that are being delivered.According to TOEIC and TOEFL English tests, the Costa Rican talent pool ranks second in Latin America in language proficiency. Since 2009, Costa Rica´s government made a commitment to promoting English at every level of the educational system, both at private and public institutions; in this regards, 88% of primary school students attend English lessons. This year the Ministry of Education announced the implementation of a new curricular program that will be implemented by 2017, in which booth students and professor will be working with modern tools and promoting higher proficiency rates. The National Training Institute (INA, acronym for the name in Spanish) is an institution, with 60 facilities located nationwide that provide training in different technical specializations including English. In addition, there are several private universities and institutions that provide language courses around the country.
CINDE developed the program Tools for Success, a scholarship fund that benefits students from Technical High Schools in Costa Rica with a 100% scholarship for an English or Portuguese course for 16 months. At the end of the training process, each student certifies their English or Portuguese level with an international test.

4. Would you say that Costa Rican employees are well positioned to succeed in software and technology? Why?

An open and collaborative relationship between government, academia and multinational companies have enabled these institutions to work graduate and post-graduate programs to improve the business climate and competitiveness of the country. One of the main areas is software and informatics, where PhD programs such as Computer Science , from the University of Costa Rica, and specialized courses like Cloud computing and Virtualization, from CENFOTEC University, have been developed and are creating the right conditions for the students to develop their careers in this area. In the last 5 years, Costa Rica has had an annual growth of 7.1% of graduates in Software and Informatics programs such as Software Development & Engineering, Computer Informatics, among other.
A pipeline of multinational High-Tec companies that are providing a wide array of end-to-end complex processes and high value-added services, from Costa Rica to all parts of the world. This pipeline has enabled a strong cluster that is able to leverage from the education system, workforce skill-sets and a solid Costa Rican culture that allows them to grow in time and add value to their operations and services. The track record of the already established companies, but mainly their report on the quality of the talent compared with other countries, has been constantly high, and has promoted not just their locating operation in our country but their diversification and growth.

5. Anything else you would like our readers and potential investors to know?

In the past two decades, Costa Rica has moved from Agriculture to an Industry and Services-based economy, in which telecommunications, computer and information services, and other business services exports represent 6.8% of the country´s GDP.

If any additional information is needed please visit www.cinde.org or write to invest@cinde.org.

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Due to a highly skilled and educated workforce and government collaboration, Costa Rica has successfully carved out its niche in the nearshoring industry and managed to stay at the top despite rising competition in Latin America. At Gorilla Logic, our nearshoring center in San Jose, Costa Rica employs the best talent Costa Rica has to offer. To read more about why Costa Rica makes the perfect nearshore location, please see Mario Merino’s blog post here. If you want to know more about Costa Rica, nearshoring or outsourcing your software development, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.

 

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Rachel Beisel
Rachel hails from music-city Nashville, Tennessee where she got her start in advertising and public relations in the country music scene and later as an account executive in an ad agency. She moved to Colorado as many do for the lifestyle upgrade and transitioned to client side leading the rebranding strategy of a 100-year-old organization, vastly different than the start-up storytelling she transitioned to in the tech industry. Rachel has a rough time with idle time, so she also co-founded the Colorado Women’s Cycling Project, co-organizes MTN Tech Marketing Meetup Group, Wednesday Morning Velo and Boulder Startup Week, is a current board member for the Downtown Boulder Initiative, women’s committee member for the Bicycle Racing Association of Colorado (and former BoD member), and current advisory board member to the Denver Nordic Association, Opera Denver, and Inside the Orchestra.

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