Entrepreneurs In Ecuador
Last week in Quito, attendees at our Live and Invest in Ecuador Conference were introduced to opportunities for living, retiring, and investing in this country…as well as top current options for starting a business here.
One of the best business opportunities in Ecuador is import-export…as successful import-export entrepreneur Roberto Ribadeneira explained…
“Our business,” Robert began, “started with fresh-cut flowers, but today we export practically everything.
“Our business has grown big, but we didn’t start that way. And the opportunity still exists in this country to make money from import-export in a small, low-key way.
“How could you make money exporting flowers from Ecuador, for example? By exporting from here and reselling. Country clubs, golf courses, and hotels always need flowers. Usually they order from flower shops. A dozen roses from a high-end flower shop costs up to US$100. We sell 100 roses, packed and shipped, for US$140.
“You could set up accounts directly with businesses in a particular area. Go in person and offer to ship quality flowers for less cost than the local florists are charging. All you need in each case is the business’ address, and we can ship the flowers to them for you. These are sales opportunities that we’d never have access to on our own…and neither would these businesses ever find us on their own. You’re acting as the connection point, providing us with direct access and the business with quality flowers at a competitive price. You could earn a good income this way.
“Flowers could be your start, as they were for us. Then, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest, you could expand your import-export business to include other products available at very low costs here in Ecuador. I’m speaking of products made by hand, including leather products—jackets, duffle bags, purses, etc. We can make the designs for you. We had a client from Texas who wanted to design a purse that could fit her gun in a way that made it easily accessible. Now she’s started a business. We make these gun-friendly purse designs for her for around US$80. She sells them for US$350 apiece at gun shows.
“Another customer came to us three weeks ago and said he wanted something to carry an iPad. We designed a leather bag that fits an iPad. It even has real cow fur. The design options are limitless.
“We work with small communities. When you place an order, it’s not just me making a profit but many others in poor communities. It’s their handiwork and their talent that make this business possible. Send me a picture of what you want, and I can find someone to create it. In addition to the people I’m working with around the country earning an income, we help them with health care, better food, and better housing. Every time you buy a handmade product from Ecuador, you’re helping a lot of people.
“Every town specializes in something. Cotacachi specializes in leather products, Otovalo is the place for textiles, and San Antonio de Barro is the place for wood.
“We also sell honey. My friends own an apiary. The flavor of the honey depends on the flowers that the bees are accessing. At my friend’s apiary, they make a variety of flavors, and now their honey has been approved by the USDA. It’s organic, certified USDA.
“Tagua is a nut that grows on the coast. It’s polished for a nice finish to make jewelry. Bracelets made from tagua range anywhere from US$2–US$12. One of my clients buys the tagua bracelets at US$2 and sells them wholesale for US$15 each. I’m not kidding you, US$15! The retail value for the bracelet is US$20. Angel ornaments made from tagua are a bestseller at Christmas, and we deliver each of these in a box. We sell them by the hundreds. The angels sell for around US$7, and people resell those for as much as US$25.
“We in the import-export business here in Ecuador don’t have access to big accounts. We have built our business on many small accounts, accounts that we can put in place only with the help of someone like you, someone with connections in the United States that we’d never be able to make without your help…”