October 6, 1878, a day that would transform the Colombian capital, four entrepreneurs founded the first chamber of commerce in Bogotá. With a population of 80,000, according to a census of the times, there were no trams, no high rises and no suburbs. Chapinero was a day’s carriage ride north of colonial La Candelaria, and a watering hole for mules on the road to Usaquén. A grove of eucalyptus stood in what we now call Avenida de Chile.
During 140 years, the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá (CCB) has grown from a handful of visionary members to an economic engine at the heart of the commercial, industrial, and entrepreneurial interests of a modern metropolis of nine million, and a strategic business hub for the hemisphere. By offering guidance to the local business community, from supporting start-ups to organizing trade and networking platforms for the promotion of specialized clusters, the CCB is a fundamental ally in Bogotá’s corporate and cultural industries.
In fact, the CCB has been investing in creative and cultural industries for the last 14 years, and, in so doing, has strengthened market platforms and incentivized growth. More recently, the CCB has developed regional specialization strategies to promote innovation and wealth in five specific sectors in which it can successfully compete as a city/region, and, thus, focus its resources and efforts.
From showcasing artists with the largest art fair in Latin America (ARTBO), and connecting producers and directors with BAM (Bogotá Audiovisual Market) to promoting local recording artists with Bogotá Music Market (Bomm), and helping designers find buyers with Fashion Week (BFW) no segment is left out when it comes to the CCB, and its commitment to Bogotá.
As part of the 140-year milestone celebration, the CCB recently inaugurated a world-class convention center, Ágora Centro Internacional de Convenciones, to give the capital a modern venue to host large events, which is another example of the organization’s commitment to the city, making sure it is on the frontline of business innovation.
This undertaking by the CCB and partners Corferias and the National Tourism Fund (Fontur) is projected to boost the capital’s GDP growth by 1%, as well as serve as an important window to promote Colombia’s tourism sector.
According to Mónica de Greiff, President of the Chamber of Commerce of Bogotá, “Ágora is a gift from the members of the business community to the city, and, most of all, and it allows advancement in the marketing strategy of the city by positioning Bogotá as the international center for events, which in turn will generate more business.”
Ágora is expected to impact the local economy with COP$1,4 billion pesos by the fourth year of operations in the service sector, telecommunications, commerce, hospitality, and real estate.
Contributing to build a better environment for businesses, and accompanying these as they grow and prosper is at the heart of the chamber’s mission.
In 1931, the government appointed the CCB to manage Public Registries, and, since then, it has contributed to businesses by offering benefits, such as guidance and counselling to ensure companies create sustainable sectors. The CCB also devises strategies to help strengthen the competitiveness of 59 localities where it exercises jurisdiction.
Suba, for example, is the municipality with the largest number of registered companies and commercial establishments with 104,526, followed by Kennedy, Engativá, Usaquén and Chapinero.
Every February, the Chamber of Commerce reminds its registered members to renew their Registro Mercantil – the commercial register that legitimizes businesses. The register acts as a presentation card and is indispensable for doing business in Colombia, whether with private companies or public entities.
In 2017, Bogotá counted with 728,784 business and commercial establishments. Compared with the previous year, this number grew 8% with 465,237 registered as “personas naturales”– natural persons with legal representation – and other 263,547 as commercial establishments.
For Mónica de Greiff, “these results show the leadership of Bogotá and the region as the engine of the Colombian economy. From our organization, we accompany entrepreneurs who, with their work and adherence to formality, decide to bet on their prosperity.”
The business fabric of Bogotá and its surrounding region is diverse. Of the total number of companies and commercial establishments registered, 663,285 are considered microenterprises (91%), 47,098 are small (6.5%), 13,261 are medium (1.8%), and 5,140 are large (0,7%).
The food sector (specifically restaurants, cafeterias and meal preparation) is the activity that concentrates the largest number of companies with 29,023. In commerce, the first place is retail and sales in non-specialized establishments such as neighborhood stores with 36,870 companies, and in industry, clothing manufacturing (except leather garments) is the occupation of 15,700 companies. In order to keep strengthening the city and region, the Chamber of Commerce is inviting all companies, from single owner to multi shareholder, to renew their registration before March 31. Failing to do so, may result in fines.
To facilitate the process, the CCB has a virtual platform www.ccb.org.co, which is the easiest, fastest and most secure way to make sure you are up-to-date and ready to keep doing business in Colombia.
Companies that register before the March deadline can obtain important benefits such as a bonus of $250,000 pesos that can be used for face-to-face consultation, online courses, seminars, and access to the CCB’s Tutor Program.
Contribute to the entrepreneurial spirit of Bogotá and region. Go online, fill out the sections, and become an active player in the growth of a city that provides all the services your business needs.