As a Centre of Excellence, it is important for us to build ties with key stakeholders and partners on the ground in Latin America. One of our team members, Lucy O'Neill, spent time in Bogotá and Medellín prior to the start of the Entrepreneurship in Colombia mobility programme. Lucy outlines in the first of two articles how our bilateral relationship is continuing to grow through Kiwis succeeding in Colombia.
In Colombia’s coffee zone, Eje Cafetero, I visited Jade Gosling, a young Kiwi who came to Colombia eight years ago to chase her dreams. Jade and her two business partners opened a restaurant, Helena Adentro, in 2013 in the beautiful town of Filandia, Quindío, which was awarded ‘Best Restaurant’ in the region at the National Restaurant Awards in 2018. Jade is also working on another project, Raw Material, with the founders of Flight Coffee in New Zealand. The team bought a coffee farm in 2015 and now work with the region’s farmers and community to promote price stability and quality coffee among local producers. In return, the team manages the export of delicious coffee to New Zealand and other countries.
"I love doing business in Colombia because I love the culture…Once you learn how things work and let things flow, everything starts to fall into place and work out just the way it should be – and if not, it will only teach you to be better, wiser and stronger."
I also had the opportunity to speak in Medellín with two amazing Kiwi entrepreneurs who are stellar examples of how to successfully do business in Colombia. Shaun Murdoch and Dan Cardiff invited me to meet over a coffee at Shaun’s coffee shop, Hija Mia Coffee Roasters, where they almost converted me – a tea lover – to a coffee drinker with the delicious flat white Shaun prepared! Shaun loves the art of roasting coffee as well as the barista side of the coffee industry; Dan is the owner of peanut butter company Mani Bros, and shared with me his tales of being a Kiwi entrepreneur in Latin America; and their common interest in coffee and entrepreneurship led these two Kiwis to become business partners. As Dan put it, there’s no better creative space than chatting in a Kiwi coffee shop, listening to The Black Seeds and Fat Freddys Drop on the other side of the world. “That’s where Mani Bros Peanut Butter was born, with a little grinder and a city-wide search for quality runner variety ‘Hi-Oleic peanuts”, he said. Hija Mia even had a visit from New Zealand Ambassador to Colombia Lucy Duncan, pictured above with Shaun.
When I asked Dan what had brought him to Colombia in the first place and how he decided to start a business there, he replied, “Diversity is what Colombia has – Medellín, known as the City of Eternal Spring, has a vibe about it, a creative energy which, when I came eight years ago the first time, was just beginning to be discovered. I decided this was the place to start.” He said he always thought Colombia was very similar to New Zealand, as both are beautiful countries which have captured interest due to their tourism and export industry. Medellín in particular is booming with tourism, and has been voted the second best South American city to live in, after Santiago, Chile.
These are just a few of the fascinating insights from our Kiwi entrepreneurs in Colombia! I’ll be providing more insights in our next newsletter. If you want to get in touch with me about our programmes and doing business in Colombia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.