IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Colombia's small and medium-size exporters and their support systems


  • Berry, Albert*Escandon, Jose


The authors evaluate the role of dynamic small and medium-size manufacturing enterprises and entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Colombia's development. They also evaluate SME policy in Colombia, especially as it affects the country's export potential. The SME sector has received little attention from Colombia's policymakers despite its substantial weight in manufacturing, its importance as a seedbed for important future companies, and its demonstrated capacity to grow rapidly under favorable circumstances. After the recent shift to a more open economy, people are asking how the sector will fare under the more intense competition to come. Recent changes in Colombia reflect strong pressure from those outside the traditional elite - especially the somewhat marginalized class of SMEs - to play a greater role in the political process. The authors interviewed entrepreneurs from 124 SMEs - all of them exporters - in the garments, leather goods, and nonelectrical machinery sectors. Some had been exporting for many years; many had begun to do so only in the late 1980s. Firms typically employed up to several hundred workers but average size at start-up was small (a median of eight workers). The leather goods industry is mainly export-oriented; the other two sell mainly in the domestic market, although all but a few were exporting. Nearly three-quarters of entrepreneurs had some university training (90 percent in the machinery industry). Most exports were to nearby or easily accessible (same-language) countries. International marketing was handled mainly by the private sector, but the public sector and other nonfirm organizations play a facilitating role in that process, especially for very small firms and first-time exporters. Trade fairs have been especially useful to the leather goods and nonelectrical machinery industries. Collective support mechanisms - mainly industry associations, especially for smaller firms and the leather goods industry - have helped firms develop technological capabilities (in finishing and design, for example, workplace organization, the use of sophisticated equipment). Education and training - especially"learning by doing"- have helped improve productivity.

Suggested Citation

  • Berry, Albert*Escandon, Jose, 1994. "Colombia's small and medium-size exporters and their support systems," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1401, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1401

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laura C. Leviton & Edward F.X. Hughes, 1981. "Research On the Utilization of Evaluations," Evaluation Review, , vol. 5(4), pages 525-548, August.
    2. Karolynn Siegel & Peter Tuckel, 1985. "The Utilization of Evaluation Research," Evaluation Review, , vol. 9(3), pages 307-328, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Albert Berry & Edgard Rodriguez & Henry Sandee, 2001. "Small And Medium Enterprise Dynamics In Indonesia," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 363-384.
    2. Markusen, James R. & Trofimenko, Natalia, 2009. "Teaching locals new tricks: Foreign experts as a channel of knowledge transfers," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 120-131, January.
    3. Abla M. Abdel-Latif & Jeffrey B. Nugent, 1996. "Transaction Cost Impairments To International Trade: Lessons From Egypt," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(1), pages 1-21, January.
    4. Linsu Kim & Jeffrey B. Nugent & Seung-Jae Yhee, 1997. "Transaction Costs And Export Channels Of Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises: The Case Of Korea," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(1), pages 104-120, January.
    5. Manuel Albaladejo, "undated". "Determinants and Policies to Foster the Competitiveness of SME Clusters: Evidence from Latin America," QEH Working Papers qehwps71, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1401. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.