One of the many things that makes Colombians worthy of admiration is their entrepreneurial spirit. Yes, they may have a reputation of being people who love partying more than they love working. Still, in so many respects, that reputation is not fair at all. Sure, they love to party, but, while there are many efficiency problems in the way work is organized and developed in Colombia, the average Colombian person is very hard-working.
And you can see this in Bogotá’s streets. In a country where there is no wide network of social support for people, essentially people need to find a way – any way – to make a living. And, while that can be challenging, it also reveals the inventive and entrepreneurial spirit of Colombians, who enjoy a fairly great amount of informal economic freedom.
Yes, informal work in Colombia is extremely widespread. This is something that governments hate, because they can’t tax it, and banks don’t love either, because this means less high-fee-paying customers for their businesses. Still, while it has its good and bad sides, informality in Colombia is an expression of informal economic freedom – which, in practical terms, means that you can go out to the streets and sell anything that may be of value to people, and find a direct way of making a living. And, in my view, that’s a very respectable thing.
When you’re walking on Bogotá’s streets, you see this everywhere. Cellphone calls being sold on a per-minute basis, ultra-cheap DVD piracy copies of the newest movies that are still in movie theaters, umbrellas, t-shirts and toys, plants, fruits and candies, and even specialty deserts being made, distributed and sold from motorcycles, with two very large pans on the back of these vehicles (filled with what may very well be a very smoky version of these deserts).
The truth is that, at the end of the day, these people do not take to the streets demanding the government to care for them, screaming for subsidies, or trashing entire parts of the city as a way to pressure the government to give them jobs.
In a very admirable way, they find something valuable that the market wants, and they provide it as best as they can. Interestingly, there are many impressive stories of millionaires who started just like that. So, if you look at it from this point of view, unconventional Colombian entrepreneurs have a lot to teach to the developed world, where government handouts are bankrupting entire societies and helping to make the horizon of developed economies increasingly darker and underdeveloped.
Written by: Miggy, check out his site for more from him.