In total, 937 buyers from 52 countries participated in the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum and had the opportunity to learn about Colombian talent, represented by 2,097 business owners from 25 departments.
"This event highlighted buyers’ and exporters’ confidence in Colombia in general, and specifically in ProColombia as an ally for internationalization," Santoro said, since 58% of buyers (543), as well as 796 Colombian business owners, were first-time participants.
Likewise, the setting was ideal for the 607 Colombian business owners who have exported less than USD 10,000 or are preparing to export, as it provided them the opportunity to confirm 4,220 business meetings with buyers from 52 countries in only a few days and a single space. These business meetings translated into sales possibilities for 12 months, worth USD 166 million in 47 markets.
Several world-renowned companies, such as Macy's, Mercadona, the Rewe Group, Royal Caribbean, Amazon, and Galeries Lafayette, visited Colombia for the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum, where Colombian designers landed fashion export projects with some of these brands.
Ghida Nsouli, purchasing representative for Galeries Lafayette in Dubai, stated that the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum "is a very interesting event because you can get to know many very talented brands. I had a meeting with the designer Margarita Díaz del Castillo and she has incredible hats not found anywhere else in the world.” Nsouli added that she was looking for Colombian beachwear and that she hopes to "clinch a deal with ProColombia and the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce soon, in order to select several Colombian brands and promote them in Dubai."
Likewise, there were 8 African companies from countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda and 72 from Asia, including South Korea, the Arab Emirates, China, India, and Korea. In addition, 6 countries that didn’t participate in the 2018 Macro Matchmaking Forum returned for this edition, namely the Bahamas, Israel, Nigeria, Palestine, Saint Martin, and Uganda.
According to José Manuel Restrepo, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, "the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum is a promotional activity included in our trade policy that seeks to facilitate trade and take advantage of current trade agreements. More than 60% of the international buyers came from countries with which Colombia has a trade agreement.” In this sense, Colombian authorities involved in foreign trade, such as ICA, INVIMA, DIAN, and various Ministries, also participated in the event.
Additionally, 46% of the business opportunities lie within three trade agreements: Pacific Alliance (17%), United States (15%), and European Union (14%). These business opportunities are concentrated in the departments of Cundinamarca, Valle del Cauca, and Antioquia, where a large number of the attendees’ businesses are located.
ProColombia’s president, Flavia Santoro, celebrated the fact that 21 of the 25 departments that participated in the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum closed deals with the buyers. "The first-time participation of a department such as Arauca, with a product such as cocoa, enriches Colombia’s export basket and helps us meet our goal of impacting the most remote regions by encouraging them to internationalize their goods and services," the official added.
Minister Restrepo highlighted the importance of the Compra lo Nuestro (Buy Colombian) campaign, created to help entrepreneurs promote their products by highlighting their quality and design. "This initiative also seeks to raise awareness about the importance of doing business legally as a mechanism to strengthen Colombian suppliers."
It is also worth noting that the macro matchmaking forum exposed Colombian businesses to the Country Brand, which resulted in more than 60 exporters expressing interest in becoming brand partners and bearing the seal that differentiates them worldwide.
ProColombia also promoted foreign direct Investment opportunities in the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum, recognizing interest in sectors such as fresh fruit and beverages. International buyers took the opportunity to make four parallel agendas and meet potential local strategic allies, in order for Colombia to become their export platform in the region. During the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum, ProColombia continued promoting Colombia’s position as a world-class event destination and was able to capture a congress, two incentive trips, and a convention for the meetings tourism segment.
Finally, the Bicentennial Macro Matchmaking Forum served as the ideal space to launch the Colombia a un Clic (Colombia at a Click) project—in partnership with Amazon, a world leader and established investor. The program’s objective is to take advantage of e-commerce to increase non-mineral and non-energy exports through training and product adaptation, in order to increase international sales over this platform. More than 500 Colombian companies have received specialized training.