Living in Medellin or setting up a business would have seemed crazy 20 years ago but it's story changed remarkably.
Medellín has become a landmark for travel and business. This phenomenon began a few years ago with some adventurous travelers, and now an increasing number of international visitors come to the city attracted by tourism or the various investment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
CloudTask, for example, arrived in Medellín through the Ruta N Business Landing program, which is responsible for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region. Like CloudTask, many other companies and investors from abroad have chosen the capital of Antioquia as their operational headquarters due to its many strategic benefits and advantages.
Primarily, companies and investors come to Medellín for the following reasons:
#1 - Quality of Life
The cost of living in Medellin is much lower than in North America and Western Europe. According to Live and Invest Overseas, the monthly budget to live in Medellin is around US$ 1,100. This may be even lower depending on the area of the city.
These savings are helped by low utility expenses, as thanks to its year-round spring climate, you can live comfortably without air conditioning or heating. Additionally, the city has some of the best hospitals in Latin America, a reliable internet and power outages are rare, which all allow you to enjoy a first world environment at moderate prices.
Medellín was ranked as the best city to live in Latin America according to Indra (2014). This recognition highlighted the hospitality of its inhabitants and the willingness to welcome tourists and foreigners, economic stability, and its urban renewal architecture.
#2 - Talent
Medellin has high-quality educational institutions and a wide range of talent. The city has opted to encourage bilingualism to improve tourism and business to reach international markets. Medellín has seven universities and multiple higher education institutions offering more than 360 academic courses distributed in undergraduate, specialization, master's, and doctorate programs. The local administration has also promoted the creation of public-private-academic partnerships, in which projects are managed with the participation of universities, companies and the state.
In addition, Colombia has become a destination for expats. Many have grown tired of their countries and come to Medellín attracted by the kindness of the people, the landscape, climate, gastronomy, transportation, public services and quality of life.
There is also a plethora of bilingual talent that grew up in the United States but decided to return to Colombia to seek better social lives and professional growth. This means that companies can focus on both the American and Latin American markets. For our core inbound sales and customer success services at CloudTask for example, the incredibly natural people skills of Colombians have been so useful for helping satisfy our US client’s customers and helping them scale.
#3 - Infrastructure
The city has strongly invested in social urbanism, promoting public policies to support innovative mass transportation systems that improve the quality of life of the inhabitants. The municipal administration has made an effort to solve the problems of violence and inequality by investing in low income communities, especially in areas such as education, mobility, entrepreneurship and quality of life.
Transportation services and connectivity are a particular area of success. There are train systems, cable cars, trams, buses and bicycle lanes across the city. The architectural and social transformations have been articulated with educational strategies to guide citizens towards respect, tolerance and the promotion of civic culture.
These educational policies are shown in particular contexts such as the cable cars and escalators of Comuna 13, where 350 concrete steps were replaced by modern and beautiful escalators, the first of its kind in Colombia. This project was carried out with the input and help of residents so that they could use and take care of this modern mobility system. Works like this make people proud of their area and foster a great community spirit.
#4 - Strategic Location
Medellín is located in the heart of Colombia, in the middle of the central Andes Mountains, in a region known as the Aburrá Valley. It is a strategic entry point for the Latin American market, close to the United States and it is on the same time zone as the East Coast for 6 months of the year and Chicago for the other 6 months. This means business hours are completely aligned with the US, as companies are on the same schedule as New York and can also catch companies on the West Coast in San Francisco for example, first thing in the morning.
Additionally, Antioquia is easy accessible due to its location and connectivity. Medellín has a local and an international airport, which connects it with top international and national business hubs. With direct flights to cities such as Panama, Miami, Quito, Lima, Madrid, New York, and more than 30 daily flights to and from Bogota.
#5 - Resilience
Medellín has gone through intense periods of violence in the past, which makes the city’s transformation even more remarkable. High rates of crime forced the city to reinvent itself through education and entrepreneurship.
Medellin wants to be recognized for creating and innovating, which is reflected in the optimism and kindness of its people. In fact, Medellín was recognized in 2013 by the Rockefeller Foundation as one of 33 Most Resilient Cities in the world.
Initiatives such as the Metrocable, a transportation system of cable cars built in the northeast and west of the city, have promoted social inclusion and reduced violence by opening up previously inaccessible areas high up in the mountains, to the city centre. Areas like Comuna 13 and Santo Domingo, which had some of the highest homicide rates in the world, have been completely transformed thanks to these initiatives.
#6 - Digital City
Policies and organizations that promote innovation and entrepreneurship such as Ruta N have helped to incubate and accelerate digital businesses. Ruta N’s Business Landing program, seeks to attract companies and various stakeholders to Medellin that bring knowledge, research, connectivity, and prosperity for the country. This program includes flexible funding for innovation, settlement facilities, guidance and access to tailor-made talent. At CloudTask, we were fortunate enough to be part of this program, and it has allowed us to scale from 10-80 employees within less than a year and a half.
In 2013, Medellín was ranked as the most innovative city in the world by The Wall Street Journal, competing against Tel Aviv and New York. This was a milestone for the city because less than 20 years ago it was considered the most violent in the world. Public policies in technology, education, and innovation have generated improvements in the quality of life and have boosted economic and social development.
#7 - Business Ecosystem
Not only is it Colombia's second largest city but it is also home to several of the country's most successful business groups such as Bancolombia, Nutresa, Argos, Sura, etc. Citizens have taken advantage of technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation to overcome social problems.
Consequently, some business clusters have been identified and promoted in economic sectors where there is greater potential for growth and impact generation such as health, fashion, textiles, construction, power generation and ICT. These clusters are interrelated and represent 31.4% of Antioquia's GDP and 33.4% of the department's assets.
Medellin - An Inspiring Story of Transformation, Resilience, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
All of the above reasons have placed Medellín on the map as a benchmark for progress and social development in the face of adversity. Its inhabitants are willing to exchange knowledge and experiences to overcome difficulties. You should there consider the capital of Antioquia when analyzing options to invest or start a business, especially with the opportunities that cloud software allows to generate value and serve international clients remotely, as we have found at CloudTask.