A special report by the export promotion agency Procomer reveals that large transnational companies in packing and construction are the biggest market for small and medium sized businesses in Costa Rica.
But not all is beer and skittles for these successful contractors — the transnationals require exacting standards and strict quality control.
Local companies provide construction services, cardboard boxes and provide food for their cafeterias. But Procomer would like to see more exports of finished products.
But diversification is happening. On 2008, 56% of exports fell into the above categories, while this year the average is something like 16%. Another smaller percentage falls into the infrastructure category having to do with building construction.
According to Procomer’s Rolando Dobles, small companies that succeed in tying in with transnational companies with branches inside the country find it good business and perhaps even a stepping stone to direct export.
La Nacion profiled the situation of Artemisa Precision. The small firm of 10 workers supplies equipment, repair parts, cold room materials to 10 transnational companies with operations here in medical equipment and electronics in Heredia and Alajuela provinces.
But, says founder/manager Kelly Duarte, when the transnational firms want something, they want it immediately and precisely. Speed and quality are the only way to keep their clients happy.
She was a precision mechanic working as a sales consultant when she came across the opportunity and founded Atemisa seven years ago. But she is not satisfied just providing materials — she says she hopes to actually provide part of the transnationals’ products soon.
Her company has applied for several certifications, including a carbon neutral one. But it is this pressure to gain internationally recognized quality certification that stands in the way of many small businesses gaining contracts with transnationals, Martha Castillo, Vice President of the Industrial Chamber, told La Nacion.
So far, many small businesses here sprang up because of the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and the foreign investment promotional agency CINDE in bringing in transnationals. Thus, exports, employment and business creation are dependent on these agencies as well.