COLOMBIA - Economy
Director, Invest in Bogotá
María Isabella Muñoz Méndez is Executive Director of Invest in Bogotá. She was an early promoter of the private equity industry in Colombia since 2008. Prior to Invest in Bogotá, she was a partner of MAS Equity Partners and executive director of Colombian Association of Private Equity Funds in Colombia—ColCapital—since its inception. She has more than 16 years of experience in private equity and venture capital funds, entrepreneurship, investments, and business structuring. She was member of the boards of Pelpak, TGT Gamas, and ColCapital. Also, she is founder of Women in Alternative Investment. She holds an industrial engineering from Javeriana University and received a graduate diploma in economics from Andes University.
A public-private partnership between the local chamber of commerce and the city government, Invest in Bogotá has supported the development of over 450 projects for companies in Bogotá since its founding.
What factors make Colombia unique and give business leaders the confidence to invest in Bogotá?
The region received over USD481 million in direct and indirect investment within 1Q2021. The estimation that we have here at the Invest in Bogotá project is that the flow of new and expanded investment within the Bogotá region grew around 39% in 2021. Bogotá is also set to attract more indirect investment from sectors such as value-added manufacturing, e-commerce, and nearshoring operations, which is a new term that everyone is talking about because what is currently happening with worldwide logistics. Infrastructure is another key sector for us and our city. There are also creative industries, technology-based services, life sciences and entrepreneurship that are a part of the strategy to attract more investment to the city. Bogotá is the economic, cultural, and administrative center of Colombia. This is also the gateway for the Latin American market due to its location and political stability, as our neighbors are not in as good or stable a political shape. The pandemic established a new commercial landscape in which Bogotá has great opportunities to become a relevant player in Latin America for the aforementioned sectors. Bogotá bet on boosting the attraction of different projects in the coming years.
What is Invest in Bogotá’s impact?
Regarding Invest in Bogotá, although the pandemic hit the development and growth of the city in 2020, we campaigned for the arrival of 30 new investments and expansion projects for the city, an estimated USD114 million in total. We also estimate that those companies generate over 5,000 direct jobs for the city. In 2019, we accompanied 48 projects, marking a personal record. And in 2021, we reached our goal and attracted 35 new investments in the city. Our goal for 2022 is to attract at least 40 new investments. We are growing rapidly. Since our creation in 2006, Invest in Bogotá, which is an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Bogotá and the City Chambers of Commerce, has supported the development of over 450 projects for companies in Bogotá. One in three projects that come to the city are brought in by Invest in Bogotá, amounting to 33% of the total.
What type of business links are Invest in Bogotá’s focus?
Our mission is to attract investment in general, and we work to identify foreign companies keen to make Bogotá an operational hub for the country or wider region. On the other hand, we have a pipeline of projects for the city that we can offer companies such as private equity funds, venture capital funds, or any kind of investments participating in the projects the city has to offer. This includes infrastructure projects and entrepreneurship. Colombia is experiencing a boom in entrepreneurship, and we need to articulate the investments of those companies who are moving faster and forward that could be attractive for investments.
Through which mechanisms does Invest in Bogotá deliver and what processes are in place to help the business community?
We align with the strategy of the city because our stakeholders are the Mayor and the Chamber of Commerce. We focus on the key sectors offering an appealing opportunity for international investors. We have different units in our agency that work closely and specialize in the different economic sectors to ensure that we have a deep understanding of the sector and its opportunities. On one hand, we are proactive and are very active in campaigns and visits to countries most likely to show interest in Bogotá. We are analyzing which countries, sectors, and types of companies that we need in Bogotá. We are generating content, analyzing trends, and making connections that allow us to receive actionable information daily. We develop content through our webpage and the media so as to position Bogotá internationally as a business-friendly city.