Why Colombia is a Software Development Hotspot

In the last few years, Colombia has consolidated itself as Latin America’s favourite outsourcing destination.The country ranked as the second in Latin America in ease of doing business by the World Bank.

This entity also pointed out that the colombian government is aggressively promoting foreign investment into the region by offering tax incentives, Free Trade Zones (FTZs), and other hiring and investment benefits.

According to a recent report published by International Data Corporation, Colombia is the third largest delivery market in Latin America for supporting and delivering global IT services (after Brazil and Mexico).

What have US companies seen on this upbeat caribbean nation? In this article we will break down everything you need to know about nearshore outsourcing opportunities in Colombia.

Connectivity and infrastructure

Colombia owns one of the best submarine cable connections in the Americas with over 10 submarine cables equipped with 4G technology.

Photo Credits: UruIT

With over 57% of Colombians connected to the web, the country has one of the most widespread connections across the region and ranks second in smartphone user penetration in Latin America.

It’s estimated that under the Vive Digital program, an initiative created by the Ministry of Technology to encourage the development of the national digital ecosystem, more than 2.000 mobile apps have been developed in Colombia since the program began.

Furthermore, over 60.000 entrepreneurs have created or renewed projects or companies with a focus on software and ICT.

Because of their high levels of connectivity and modern infrastructure, Colombia ranks second in “readiness for business in the cloud” in Latin America.

Innovation pole

There’s more than one reason why Colombia has become Latin America’s hottest spot for tech. In the last decade there have been several initiatives that aimed at developing the tech industry in Colombia.

Photo Credits: Ruta N

Due to these efforts, soon, the city of Medellín will join San Francisco (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Beijing (China) and Mumbai (India) as one of the few in the world to become a headquarter for The Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

On this project driven by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the participant cities are meant to be hubs for global cooperation to develop policy frameworks and advance collaboration that accelerates the benefits of science and technology.

The Medellín Center will be located in the famous “Ruta N” building, a hub created in 2009 to consolidate a knowledge environment and generate conditions that favor business and entrepreneurship.

Official operations started on March 31st, requiring an investment of$1.5 -2 million per year. According to the WEF, IoT, AI and Blockchain are some of the many technologies that the center will be working with.

Young IT talent everywhere

Colombia has a steadily growing population of young, highly educated and motivated individuals specializing in software engineering and other tech related fields.

Photo Credits: UruIT

The Ministry of Education estimates that each year over 13.000 students graduate from colombian universities with degrees in engineering and IT. and over 14% of the country’s university students graduate from areas related to technology.

As a matter of fact, between the years 2001 and 2013, the colombian talent pool produced over 340.000 IT professionals who not only work with a wide range of technologies, but are also very familiar with CMMI and agile methodologies.

Colombia has the largest technology careers graduate population compared to other Latin American locations. While most countries in the region have talent concentrated in one or two cities, Colombia has multiple attractive tech locations outside of the capital city Bogotá. There is substantial availability of IT talent in blooming cities such as Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla and Cartagena.

Completing a degree in software engineering in Colombia can take between 5 and 7 years. However, there is a wide offering of shorter, tech related careers and technical degrees all across the country both in public and private universities.

Academic programs are designed to be up to date with the latest technologies and programming languages, and students are trained to be able to work with scrum and similar agile methodologies.

Here are the top 10 Colombian universities for engineering careers according to the 2018 ranking made by specialized magazine Dinero, which measures performance based on its indicators of technological development and innovation:

Position University Score
1 Universidad EIA – Medellín 196.2
2 Universidad de los Andes – Bogotá 192.2
3 Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Bogotá 186.8
4 Universidad del Norte – Barranquilla 185.8
5 Universidad ICESI – Cali 180.8
6 Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Bogotá 179.8
7 Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Medellín 179.2
8 Universidad de la Sabana – Chía 178.4
9 Universidad EAFIT – Medellín 176.8
10 Universidad del Valle – Cali 175.8

 

Great English skills

Colombia is the 2nd largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, but English has become prevalent as a second language among many Colombians. In fact, this is one of the reasons why Colombia has become one of the most business-friendly countries in the region.

In order to strengthen English language proficiency among the population, the Colombian government has adopted multiple initiatives like the Foreign Languages Competencies Development Programme (PFDCLE) which aims to make the country bilingual by the end of 2025.

Colombia’s trendiest tech cities

Photo Credits: Joel Duncan/Unsplash

  • Bogotá (Population: 8 million): With extensive, modern infrastructure and plenty of tech talent, the capital city has gained reputation for being the center for development of banking and financial software services.
  • Medellín (Population: 2.5 million): Recognized in 2013 as “The World’s Most Innovative City” by the non-profit, Urban Land Institute, Medellín has become more well-known globally as an attractive location for cutting-edge companies and startups. Soon, the city will join San Francisco (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Beijing (China) and Mumbai (India) as one of the few cities in the world to become a headquarter for The Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
  • Bucaramanga (Population: 521.857): At the heart of the Colombian oil industry, the city serves as the centre of activity for development of software and IT services for the oil & gas industry.
  • Barranquilla (Population: 1.2 million): This caribbean city has a large presence of companies providing software and IT services for logistics and transportation industry as well as project management software for infrastructure projects.
  • Cartagena (Population: 971.592): While the city is a well-known beach and tourist destination, Cartagena is also a major center for companies fulfilling regional demands for IT and Digital Services, especially in the transportation industry.

 
Flight connectivity

With 12 international airports, Colombia provides easy access to global markets with good international air connectivity:

  • Flight time from L.A to Bogotá: 7 h 15 min
  • Flight time from N.Y to Bogotá:  6 h
  • Flight time from Miami to Bogotá: 3 h 40 min
  • Flight time from Miami to Medellín: 3 h 30 min
  • Flight time from N.Y to Medellín: 5 h 45 min

 
Time zone

Colombia shares a full workday overlap with the US facilitating real-time collaboration.

The country’s official world time zone is GMT+5 which is the same as EST time for most of the year.    

Holidays and mandatory leave days

Labor laws in Colombia provide 15 mandatory leave days per year for every worker. In addition, there are 17 national holidays during the year:

DATE HOLIDAYS
January 1st New Year
January 6 Epiphany
March 25 St. Joseph’s day
April 18 Holy Thursday
April 19 Holy Friday
May 1st Labor Day
June 3 Feast of the Ascension
June 24 Corpus Christi
July 1st Sacred Heart
July 20 Independence Day
August 7 Bocaya’s Battle
August 19 Assumption of the Virgin Mary
October 14 Columbus Day
November 4 All Saints Day
November 11 Cartagena’s Independence
December 8 Immaculate Conception’s Day
December 25 Christmas

 
Conclusion

Great connectivity and infrastructure, competitive rates, travel proximity and a workforce of thousands of highly educated IT professionals is the perfect combo for an outstanding nearshore software outsourcing experience.

Nearsure works with and scouts the best of Colombian tech talent. For more information on hiring amazing developers and taking advantage of Colombia’s growing talent pool for your project, Contact us!

Sources:

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Jimena Baliero

As part of Nearsure’s marketing and business development team, Jimena's goal is to make sure that our devs continue working on challenging innovative projects and helping industry leaders build great software products. Her focus is to generate business opportunities by applying digital strategies and techniques for the company to meet its growth plans.

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