Located at the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic's language and geography present an advantage to companies seeking to expand into the region. The country itself remains a relatively small market, but its central location could be a boon to an investor looking for a convenient foothold in Latin America or the US.
Opportunities for technology consultancy grow along with any economy, as businesses find needs to reach customers can only be met with new software, more phones, and more social media outreach. Tech investors should not be dissuaded by the Dominican Republic's small IT sector, but rather see it as an opportunity for growth.
One of the prominent companies in the IT sector is GBM Dominicana, which has its headquarters in Miami. GBM helps other companies find solutions for their IT needs, helping to set up databases and cloud computing systems. Every business nowadays must take on elements of a tech company in order to compete in any market. GBM helps get that daunting task done.
“The Dominican market is an extremely important market for GBM Corporation, mainly due to its size. The Dominican Republic has an excellent economic and investment climate," Gustavo Pascal, the Dominican Republic's Country Manager at GBM, told TBY. “Its stability allows the private sector to plan and consequently invest, which translates into growth."
“The technology industry will have solid growth in the country in the coming years," Pascal added.
Aside from stability, investors can look to the Dominican Republic as a launch pad for selling technology services in the US, where the Spanish-speaking population is growing. The Dominican Republic has an established diaspora community located in New York City and elsewhere in the US. That diaspora community requires technology services that are both culturally competent and reliable.
A forward-thinking tech investor might find a way to facilitate remittances from families in New York to Santo Domingo, for example, or to capitalize on the country's intense interest in baseball. Consider, for instance, a Dominican-based mobile app that keeps its sports fans in touch with what's going on in Major League Baseball, which counts Dominicans among its top players.
Mobile companies have made major strides in connecting every Dominican to the web. Only about half of the country uses the internet on a regular basis, but the incentive to get the other half online is as strong as ever. Having better communication technology gives consumers more information about markets and is an indispensable tool for any country's economic development.
There are also challenges investors in Dominican Republic tech can expect. Although the country boasts of stability and a steady upward trajectory, one cannot expect to see a huge return on investment immediately. Those who put their money on the Dominican tech sector might have to wait years before finding their footing in the Dominican market.
Pascal believes that the government and financial sector can do more to encourage a vital and dynamic IT industry.
“The country is not characterized by encouraging entrepreneurs, much less entrepreneurs in technology. The state should participate and provide more encouragement. The private sector has allocated funds for that, though that has been limited. In the Dominican Republic, there is a great deal of creativity and intelligence. The country has many capable, talented people with great ideas, though that part needs more support," he said, adding that banks need to find a way to develop loans specifically for entrepreneurs in technology.
Following GBM's lead, however, investors in the local tech sector would do well by focusing on providing B2B services first, and then branching out into consumer and retail markets. Those will take time to develop, but established Dominican businesses are ready to digitalize their operations now.