CARACAS – The economic crisis in Venezuela has taken a heavy toll on small businesses, but some entrepreneurs are still launching successful ventures, using ingenuity and hard work to overcome the challenges.
Venezuela’s entrepreneurs are “heroes” because they need to think creatively to get a business off the ground amid the country’s many economic difficulties, Opcion Venezuela entrepreneurship network director Felix Rios said.
A number of businesses have been launched and succeeded despite the economic crisis, Rios said.
Venezuela is plagued by a stagnant economy, high inflation and shortages of goods ranging from food to medicines.
More than 2 million entrepreneurs seek to start businesses in Venezuela annually, but just 10 percent of these ventures are around for more than three years, Rios said, citing Institute for Advanced Business Administration Studies (IESA) figures.
The biggest obstacle to success is that few entrepreneurs manage to “mature” and deal with the problems affecting their businesses, the Opcion Venezuela director said.
Judith Suniaga and Hector Manzanillo are the exception, launching a small company called Suma Deportes, which converted an abandoned swimming pool into an entertainment center.
Suma Deportes offers families a fun place to spend time, with a swimming pool and small restaurant that help adults and children have a good time.
The business was hard to get off the ground due to insufficient capital that mainly consisted of personal savings, Suniaga told EFE.
The entrepreneurs decided to take on the challenge anyway because “in a more normal economy, they would have asked for much more experience, more references, bank statements ... and we needed much less of those things here,” Suniaga said.
Luisa Lopenza, creator of Chili Cakes, is having a more difficult time staying afloat because her business sells food, but she has still managed to be successful.
The situation is so bad in Venezuela that buying a cake “has totally become a luxury,” Lopenza said.
“There are people who can pay for a cake, but other people can’t afford such a luxury,” the bakery owner told EFE.
Lopenza must manage the constant rise in the prices of basic ingredients, such as flour and sugar, as well as obtaining boxes for cakes.
“We’ve tried to adjust the prices and offer other things that are within reach for people,” Lopenza said.