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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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Happy Birthday ConnectAmericas!

By - Mar 31 2016

ConnectAmericas.2jpgThey say time flies when you’re having fun, but the two year anniversary of a business-focused social media platform reminds us that it flies when you’re doing good as well. With April 2nd marking the second anniversary of our first blog post, this spring we also celebrate the launch of ConnectAmericas, which went live in March 2014.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this platform, ConnectAmericas is a non-profit initiative spearheaded by the IDB to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) seeking business opportunities. It works to foster the entrepreneurial spirit that is coursing through LAC, and to help the region’s businesses break through traditional barriers faced by budding SMEs. Specifically the platform strives to help SMEs overcome three fundamental obstacles confronted in the process of expanding internationally: (a) access to trustworthy international contacts, (b) access to current and high-quality information about international trade and (c) access to financing.

Companies can easily register and access three types of services that address these challenges:

  • Connect: Once they have created a profile, ConnectAmericas members are invited to connect with companies (which are recommended to them based on their profile and use of the platform), join industry-specific business communities (or virtual spaces where users can publish what they are looking to buy or sell, plug into what’s happening in the industry, and interact directly with other business-people), and register for face-to-face business events organized by the IDB and its network of partners.
  • Learn: ConnectAmericas provides massive online open courses (MOOCs) that bring valuable learning to the region’s SMEs. To date it offers nine courses on topics including food security, strategic planning, and how to run a family business, as well as webinars, video testimonials from other businesses, company self-assessment tools, trade intelligence tools, technical articles, and articles describing and linking to available support for SMEs throughout our region.
  • Finance: ConnectAmericas shows members all the trade-related financing products and services available to your company. This includes: (i) products and services offered by commercial banks in your country and Export-Import Banks in the countries where you want to do business, (ii) opportunities offered by the IDB Group, and (iii) InvestAmericas: a platform developed by the Inter-American Investment Corporation to connect investors from all over the world with investment opportunities in our region.

During its first two years of operation, ConnectAmericas has been visited by more than 800,000 people from 192 countries and territories. And to date, 55,000 business-people from 102 countries have created profiles on the platform.

But the benefits of ConnectAmericas aren’t limited to SMEs only.  Large companies can also profit from the recently launched program “Made in the Americas,” which allows premium buyers to publish procurement notices and requirements that can be seen by ConnectAmericas’ global audience of SMEs. It also allows companies to send tailored messages to specific groups of companies within ConnectAmericas, filtering these groups based on their country of operation, industry, and size. And lastly, with support from the IDB, it allows larger businesses to propose and produce content and learning materials to help SMEs comply with the standards that large buyers require. So far 10 buyers including Arcos Dorados, Grupo Britt, DHL, and Globein have joined this effort to help small and medium sized businesses integrate themselves into more demanding value chains, but we are open to the participation of many others as well.

ConnectAmericas could not have achieved so much without the support of globally renowned companies such as Google, DHL, Visa, and Alibaba.com, as well as numerous local partners in the LAC region and beyond. These local partners include trade and investment promotion organizations, chambers of commerce, trade associations, banks, and other government and non-governmental organizations working on international trade, investment, and SMEs. Critically, in late 2015 the initiative welcomed Maersk to this partnership. Working through its intra-Americas shipping line Sealand, the company is boosting the ConnectAmericas knowledge base and sharing its own logistics, planning, and customs expertise to develop training and information programs. Directed primarily at Colombia, Mexico and Peru, the content features information tailored to each country’s unique needs.

So whether you’re a large company looking to integrate SMEs into value chains, a prospective partner willing to share your business expertise, or an SME looking for ways to strengthen and internationalize your business, celebrate ConnectAmericas’ second birthday by checking it out online!

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