Business Opportunities in Ecuador

Published: 29th December 2008
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Ecuador has recently become the focus of interest by a lot of people wishing to retire in a low cost country. This had become increasingly relevant as most countries in the world are currently suffering from a major economic recession. Pensions, homes and other investments have lost substantial value and many people are looking at quite bleak futures if they stay where they are.

One international organization has ranked Ecuador as the second best country in the world to retire in, based on the weight of a number of criteria:

- Real estate: 15% - Entertainment, recreation, and culture: 10% - Cost of living: 20% - Safety and stability: 5% - Health care: 20% - Climate: 5% - Special benefits (eg. ease of migration): 20% - Infrastructure: 5%.

A person can easily live on less than $1,000 per month if they own their own home, which can be purchased for a fraction of the equivalent sized and quality home in most western countries.

This survey is fine and encouraging for people who can afford retirement. But what about employment opportunities, for those who cannot afford to retire and still have young families?

For some people, a viable option is to gain employment with local organizations in Ecuador (eg teaching English or some other specialized subject). In most cases, however, Spanish language competency is required. Not everyone has that, at least to begin with.

For most foreign people who wish to live in a place like Ecuador, but not retire, the best option for earning income is self employment.

So what sort of self-employment is possible?

Many people have portable skills. For example, internet based businesses can be operated anywhere there is a good connection. This also applies for good copywriters, authors, on-line consultancies, therapists, and many others. Artists also have the potential to profitably work in a country like Ecuador.

Some foreigners start or buy restaurants and hostels. One person we know partnered with a local Ecuadorian and started a new internet café. Another person has started an English bookshop - for both new and used books.

Another option, for those with the skills, is to buy run-down properties, improve them, and then sell them again for a profit. Some expats with good practical interior design and building skills have already done this. The local low labor costs make this a very feasible option for many.

Exporting the local artisan products is another opportunity. There is a huge number of products to choose from, and in most cases they are extremely good value. Buying in bulk achieves great discounts, and the profit margins when sold at wholesale or retail in many overseas countries more than justifies the travel and marketing costs. A business like this can be scaled up very quickly by exhibiting at various trade fairs in North America, Europe and Australasia. The start-up costs for such a business would be less than $25,000. For people who want to combine a business with travel, this is a great way to go.

With very little effort, it is also possible to partner with local trustworthy Ecuadorians who are currently doing smaller property sub-divisions and housing developments. The locals often lack sufficient capital, so they welcome having foreign partners to join with them and share the profits from a joint effort. Sometimes where the projects are too large for a single investor, they can be done on a syndicated basis with pooled investments. Often, an expat who has already established the local relationships and has knowledge of the local system is a syndicate leader.

The best way to research these various business opportunities is to spend a reasonable period of time in Ecuador and get to know some locals while searching for the opportunities. It is possible to rent a fully furnished apartment for $400 - $650 per month. So a 2-3 month stay is not going to break the bank. In fact for that period of time, you can probably rent your own home out, or even do a home-exchange with someone from Ecuador. You will find that it costs very little to take an exploratory trip - discover new income opportunities while having a great fun time. Some people even take the opportunity to attend Spanish classes 3-5 afternoons per week, so that they have something special to take back home with them. Certainly knowing the Spanish language will greatly improve the ability to source good opportunities. However, it is not absolutely necessary.


Join Dixie and her partner as they share their experience on living in Ecuador.

Video Source: Youtube

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