Domestic vs. International Entrepreneurs

The Basics


Entrepreneurs have the option of establishing their venture at home or relocating abroad.  On the surface, domestic entrepreneurs assume in-depth knowledge of their home market from the economic climate to their competition.  International entrepreneurs, however, require “a combination of innovative, proactive, and risk-seeking behavior that crosses national borders and is intended to create value in organizations” (McDougall & Oviatt). These foreign players benefit from the growth opportunities and the access to new markets abroad.  However, the challenges of internationalization for a young firm may vary across countries.



Crossing Borders


Entrepreneurs can partake in internationalization through:


1. Exporting –  the sales of goods manufactured in the home country to clients  abroad


2. Licensing – granting a foreign entity the rights to use a patent, trade mark, technology, production process, or product


3. Opening an office in a foreign country







From the “Journal of International Entrepreneurship”, a study traces three differences in domestic and international entrepreneurs:


1. Entrepreneurial team experience


2. Strategy


3. Industry structure


Due to the added complexity of going abroad, international entrepreneurs tend to concentrate in a group setting for ease of management and operation.  Domestic entrepreneurs, on the other hand, can suffice with a single decision-maker. The study also suggests that successful teams of international entrepreneurs possess high industry knowledge and international experience.


Furthermore, they tend to adopt more aggressive and innovative strategies and rely on product differentiation to enter the foreign market.  Lastly, international entrepreneurs often occupy knowledge-intensive and technology-intensive industries, especially those that are already globally-integrated.  To compensate for the lack of direct experience and knowledge of the foreign country, international entrepreneurs would need to be more proactive in making their presence known and reputable.





In Colombia




In recent years, initiatives to provide equal opportunities for foreign entrepreneurs have become more popular.  INNpulsa Colombia is one of the programs created by the national government to promote business innovation and foster entrepreneurship. Catalina Ortiz Lanlinde, General of INNpulsa Colombia, comments on the need “to attract human capital [from abroad] to create businesses, research and generate innovation” in Colombia.


For this purpose, INNpulsa Colombia offers grants, such as iNNpulsa MiPyme and Seed Capital EDI, for both national and foreign entrepreneurs.  Consequently, equal access to resources and credits attract more entrepreneurs into the country and contribute to the overall economic growth.


Please see Financial Resources for more information on grants.







Exchanges of entrepreneurs across borders is highly encouraged for the trade of goods and ideas. Proexport, a government agency that seeks to promote tourism, foreign investment, and exports, organizes domestic and international events to attract entrepreneurs to Colombia.   Recently, Proexports partnered with several Israeli government entities to host a seminar for more than 150 Israeli entrepreneurs interested in doing business in Colombia. The event was held in Tel Aviv, Israel to promote tourism, manufacturing and services sectors.


Colombia hopes to acquire Israeli’s technology for water waste reduction; in return, Isreali has a niche in its market for Colombian fruit products.  President of the Colombia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Luis Szapiro, believes the “two countries complement each other through trade because Colombia has products that are not produced in Israel.  Therefore, the exchange is desirable to sustain international relations and satisfy demand and supply.




An important note to take away is that entrepreneurship is an engine of growth in emerging markets like Colombia.  Providing equal access and opportunity for both domestic and international entrepreneurs is a goal and a priority for Colombia to continue its rise.



Doing Your Research


From Colombia Reports, an article on Bob Reisenweber, an American entrepreneur who successfully started companies like Luxury, Peru Mix, and Sparkly Girls in Medellin, provides tips for foreign entrepreneurs:


1. Live in the country first – to familiarize with the business culture and economic climate


2. Develop and expand your network – to discover potential partners and clienteles


3. Hire a good accountant and lawyer – to save time and money when dealing with tax and legal issues


4. Learn Spanish!





For International Entrepreneurs


To do business in Colombia, the following issues should be considered:


1. Visa Requirements


2. Tax Obligations


3. Language Study



Visa Requirements


Foreign entrepreneurs must provide proper documentations of their entry and stay in Colombia.  The following visa options are available:


1. Business Visa


2. Colombia Business Associate/Business Owner Visa


3. Colombia Work Visa


4. Colombia Investors Visa


Please see Legal Considerations for more information.



Tax Obligations


In general, foreign entrepreneurs and business entities are taxed only on their Colombian-source income.  Individuals and entities can be considered a Colombian resident for tax purposes depending on the circumstances:


Individual Business Entity
- If he/she stays in Colombia for more than 6 months in the tax year (continuous or non-continuous)

- If his/her family lives in Colombia even though the individual is outside the country

- If his/her main place of business is in Colombia even though the individual is outside the country
- Domiciled in Colombia

- Established under the laws of Colombia

- Management is in Colombia


Please see Legal Considerations for more information.



Language Study


Knowing Spanish is a great asset for foreign entrepreneurs in Colombia.  Several options are available:


1. University Language Programs


2. Language Schools


3. Private Lessons



University Language Programs


Universidad EAFITCourses can be semi-intensive (2 hours/day for 4 weeks) or intensive (4 hours/day for 2 weeks). Discount is given for more than one course.Jaime Alberto Naranjo Spanish Program Coordinator for Foreigners 7 Sur Cra. 49 No. 50 Avenue Las Vegas. Medellín, Colombia Tel: (57) (4) 2619399 Skype:
Universidad Pontificia BolivarianaCourses can be semi-intensive (10 hours/week) or intensive (20 hours/week). Private classes are also available.
Rates are as follow:
  • Group class (3 to 10 sts): $20.900 COP per hour; 40 hours (ref.): $836.000 COP
  • Semi-private class (2 sts): $30.800 COP per hour; 40 hours (ref.): $1'232.000 COP
  • Private class: $52.800 COP per hour; 40 hours (ref.): $2'112.000 COP
  • Gustavo Jaramillo Tel: (574) 3544564 or (574) 4488388 Ext: 12006.
    Centro de Lenguas Campus de Laureles: Circular 1a No. 70-01.
    Formación Continua Edificio rectoral, Of. 104 Tel: (574) 3544508
    Escuela de Ingeniería de Antioquia (EIA)Five course options are available:
  • Option 1: 2 hours/ day for 8 weeks
  • Option 2: 4 hours/day for 12 weeks
  • Option 3: 2 hours/day for 20 weeks
  • Option 4: 4 hours/day for 22 weeks
  • Option 5: one-on-one private classes
    Include additional benefits:

  • Airport pick-up
  • Assistance with accommodation
  • Company visits in Medellin
  • Cultural or research oriented immersion
  • Conversation partner link-up
  • Access to EIA and CES facilities
  • Access to free cultural classes at EIA
  • Melanie BlachardDirector of Internationalisation Tel: (+574) 354 9090 Ext: 241
    Universidad AntioquiaCourses are personalised based on student needs. Minimum of 4 hours/week
    Rate at $40.000 COP/ hour for a one-student class. Group classes can be arranged with special prices.
    Martín Jiménez Alonso Arango Academic Coordinator International Languages and Cultures Centre School of Languages University of Antioquia E-mail address: Phone Number: (574) 2198332 Ext. 9003 Address: Carrera 52 # 50-13, Second Floor Medellín, Colombia
    Pontificia Universidad JaverianaCourses are 4 hours/day for 100 academic hours; private courses and night courses are available; specialised courses include:

  • Business Spanish
    Preparation for DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language)
  • Colombian Culture
  • Analysis and Discussion of Texts
  • Communication and Culture
  • Colonial Periods, Republican and Independence in Latin America
  • Latin American Center
    Language Department
    School of Communication and Language
    Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
    Transv. 4 # 42-00 Piso 6 °
    Edificio José Rafael Arboleda, S.J.
    Bogotá, Colombia
    South America Tel/Fax: (57 1) 3208320 Ext. 4604 - 4620
    Universidad de los AndesVarious options are available:

  • Semester courses: Monday-Thursday for 15 weeks, 90 hours
  • Summer courses: Monday to Friday for 3 weeks, 45 hours
  • Special group courses
  • Special courses for business executives
  • Private classes

    Rates for semester and summer courses are $1'100.000 COP each.
  • Camilo Andres Monje Spanish as a Foreign Language Coordinator Tel: (571) 3394949, Ext: 5595
    Universidad EANVarious options are available:

  • Short Business Spanish
  • General Spanish
  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate study
  • Personalized courses
    Rates are as follow:

  • 40-hour course: $1'000.000 COP
  • 16-hour course: $400.000 COP
  • Personalized course: $95.000 COP
  • El Nogal, Cra 11 No. 78-47
    Av Chile, Calle 71 No. 9-84
    Hildebrand Library Afanador Perico N. 79th Street 11-45
    Telephone: PBX + (571) 593 6464
    Toll-Free: 01 8000 93 1000
    Bogotá, Colombia - South
    Universidad de la SalleCourses are Monday-Friday 4 hours/day. For the rates, please visit HEREUniversity of La Salle
    Cra 15 No 49-71
    Tel: (57) (1) 3404339/28/00
    Universidad de La SabanaVarious options are available:

  • Spanish and Volunteering
  • Conversational Spanish
  • Corporate Training
  • Spanish for Professionals
  • Spanish in Business Tables
  • Summer Courses
    For rates, please visit HERE
  • Natalia De La Paz Cabrera Logistic Coordinator – Spanish Program Campus del Puente del Común, Km. 7, Autopista Norte de Bogotá. Tel: (+57) (1) 8615555, 8616666 Ext: 41301 Mobile: (+57) 313 4789223
    Universidad Tecnológica de BolívarWeekly courses (20 or 25 hours/week), summer courses, and personalized courses are availableFor the rates, please visit HERE3 Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar Manga Calle del Bouquet Cra 21 25-92. Cartagena de Indias, Colombia Tel: 575 6606041 Ext: 444-433.


    Language Schools


    International House BogotaIntensive Spanish course for 20 hours/week in group of no more than 8 students. Rates are as follow:
  • 1-4 weeks: $US 220
  • 5-12 weeks: $US 200
  • 13-23 weeks: $US 190
  • 24 or more weeks: $US 180
  • Special 3-day week: $US 145
  • Special 2-day week: $US 90
  • Calle 10 No. 4-09, Barrio La Candelaria Bogotá, D.C., Colombia Tel +57 1 336 4747
    Medellin Language AcademyCourses can be private or group setting. Different options are available:

  • General Spanish
  • Business Spanish
  • Spanish and Colombian Culture
  • General Spanish and salsa lessons
  • Spanish and Excursion
  • Spanish and Volunteering

    For the rates, please visit HERE.
  • Federico Del Valle Calle 10 #38-49, Edificio Boulevard de la 10 Oficina 203-204 Parque Lleras, El Poblado Medellín
    The Blacksheep HostalCourses can be private or group setting. Length depends on student needs.
    Rates range from 12,000 COP/hour and up depending on size of the class.
    Transversal 5A # 45-45 Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia
    +57 4 580 7837
    Learn More than SpanishSpanish Business courses are available in 4-week curriculum and full curriculum (12 weeks). Activities courses (dance, guitar, yoga, and cooking) can be added.

    For the rates, please visit HERE
    Calle 55 No. 10-64 Bogotá, Colombia Tel: +57 1 622 5952
    Nueva LenguaVarious options are available in 3 locations:

  • General Spanish
  • Spanish and Community Service
  • Spanish and Art
  • Spanish and Sports
  • Spanish in Professional Environment
  • Spanish one-on-one
  • Calle 69 No.11A-09, barrio Quinta Camacho, Bogotá Colombia Calle del Pozo No.25 - 95, Barrio Getsemaní (Close to Plaza de La Trinidad). Cartagena, ColombiaTel: 57 1 813 8674 or 57 1 753 2451
    RelatoVarious options are available in 2 locations:

  • Spanish for Travelers
  • Business Spanish
  • Spanish To Go
  • DELE Preparation
  • Cra 47 N 101 B -08 Bogotá, Colombia 571 7596757, Calle San Antonio N 25-149, Cartagena, Colombia Tel: 576 6685758,
    Centro CatalinaVarious options are available:

  • Standard Spanish
  • Intensive Spanish
  • Super Intensive Spanish
  • Complementary Spanish Courses
  • DELE Preparation
  • Private Courses

    For rates, please visit HERE
  • San Diego Calle de los 7 Infantes n°9-21
    Cartagena de Indias, Colombia Tel: (+57) 310 761 2157




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