Having no military has unquestionably contributed to Costa Rica’s success as the money was instead invested in developing one of the strengths of Costa Rica, its people and talent, which have attracted many of the companies that have fueled the economy in the last 10-15 years. There is also a sense of equality, and this has helped create a large middle class with access to free education up to high school as well as public universities, which are regarded among the best in the country. Costa Rica traditionally has been in competition for FDI with its closest neighbors; however, if we look at the sectors that have been an engine for growth, particularly those operating on the free trade zone regime, then competition has always been within a larger territory. For example, 10-15 years ago, Costa Rica was competing with Panama, El Salvador and other Latin American countries for companies looking to set up shared service centers; however, in the last five years Costa Rica has been competing not only against other Latin American countries but also against low-cost locations in the US and Europe.
Philip Morris is in the middle of a transformation journey to build our future on smoke-free products. The mindset of Costa Rica is very much about sustainability and is proud of it. It is an example to the world in many areas such as renewable energy, health, education, and the way it takes care of the environment. That by itself is a great base to bring these new alternatives and one of the things we aspire to is for Costa Rica to be one of the first smoke-free societies. Choosing Costa Rica as our headquarters for the region was institutional because many multinationals are based here to cover Central America and the Caribbean, depending on the setup. Institutions are quite strong relative to the Latin American neighborhood, which brings confidence, stability, and the rule of law. This is clear compared to other countries and even though on a cost basis it is not the cheapest place in Central America the other things are stronger in the overall equation.
Country Manager Costa Rica, Manuel Zamora
We have been here since 1920. As the Coca-Cola Company produces locally in every country through franchise bottlers, that makes us one of the most important partners in any country in terms of employment. We are embedded and invested in Costa Rica, having been here almost a century. Costa Rica is our headquarter hub for our Latin Center region from which we manage 31 countries, including the Caribbean, Central America, and the northern part of South America. Costa Rica, also offer us highly skilled bilingual talent. Furthermore, our concentration plant, from where we export to the Caribbean, Central America, and other countries, is also proudly located in Costa Rica since 1962. From a large import/export perspective, we focus on local production. We make more of an impact to the local economy. We try to procure all our core ingredients locally; hence, our impact for Costa Rica is truly felt here. Our broader business and the entire value chain starts with growers, who grow what we procure, such as sugar cane.
General Manager, Deloitte
In terms of human capital in Costa Rica, we have attracted global attention for how competent and capable our employees are. International foreign investors and companies are setting up in the country and entering new industries for that reason. People do have to be properly trained; we have a great base from where we start, with capable people who are intelligent and well educated. We direct some employees to our interesting training programs that we want certain personnel to complete. Also, a large part of the training is done on the job. We make sure our employees get the basics right through our formal course and are also beside them during their work. We work strongly on objectives, and have provided several programs that will allow our employees to develop strongly toward those objectives. Additionally, we have formed partnerships with several universities in Costa Rica. We have a program called Unilever en tu Clase, where top leaders of the organizations go to universities and work with students to make cases that are real-world examples.
Country Manager, Cisco
Deloitte has been present for 50 years in the Costa Rican market. Deloitte was the first services consultancy company in the country. We also manage the Central America region from here with our 500 collaborators. In 2016, Costa Rica captured close to 45% of the investments that were made in the entire region related to shared services centers. Costa Rica is an already consolidated services provider in sectors such as traditional exporting for manufacturing, agricultural, tourism, and others. The secret here is the people, the human resources. The truth is that as a country Costa Rica has been investing almost 8% of its GDP on education. We do not have an army. Costa Rica is a stable country, with no major political upheavals. These are all what we offer, besides the commitment with the environmental conservation. Costa Rica being 28th in the Social Progress Index is an objective indicator, and it is meritorious that with our GDP we were rated in the Social Progress Index in a level well above our respective GDP.