Bolivian MSMEs see progress in foreign trade businesses’ digitisation

LA PAZ (XINHUA) – The digitisation programme that equips Bolivia’s micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to join foreign trade has seen significant progress in recent weeks as businesses have got adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, senior officials said.

“We have had significant progress in this plan that focusses on companies being able to adapt to the model of what consumers are looking for and how they can adapt their companies to the digital world, especially during the pandemic,” Vice Minister of Foreign Trade and Integration Claribel Aparicio told Xinhua.

The thousands of MSMEs in the country constitute the largest generators of employment and are the engine of the nation’s economy, she said.

In just over a month after the launch of this programme, 2,013 Bolivian MSMEs have enrolled in the digitalisation plan, which is being promoted by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Integration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Organization of American States, the Kolau company, and other business associations.

“The goal is to reach 10,000 digitised MSMEs in one year. Having digitised over 2,000 enterprises in the first month, we will undoubtedly exceed that goal in half a year,” said the vice foreign trade minister.

According to Bolivia’s foreign ministry, similar MSME digitisation plan is being implemented in a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and has already benefitted over 65,000 entrepreneurs.

Bolivian National Chamber of Exporters President Gonzalo Molina said that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is transforming the way of doing business, and this has become even more important during the pandemic.

“Business organisations that do not take advantage of new tools to increase their productivity, their supply, and not understand more clearly the demands of consumers would put their immediate future at risk,” he said.

“Access to the platform will allow entrepreneurs to be part of the great world showcase, because at this time, due to the health emergency from coronavirus, it is the only way to present themselves, given the impossibility of carrying out export promotion,” he said.

Molina said he is coordinating with the departmental chambers to make these technological tools available to small-scale artisans, entrepreneurs, and farmers, adding that the digitisation of companies at this time is no longer an “option, but a necessity”.

Molina said that entrepreneurs must not opt out of being part of this free digital training plan, which will allow MSMEs to market their products, strengthen foreign trade, generate more jobs, and boost economic growth.