SEC Colombia

The Senior Expert Contact (SEC) Colombia project connects Colombian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with high-growth potential and senior experts from Europe and Latin America to increase their earnings, create new jobs and foster their integration to global markets.
Bogotà, Colombia
Departamento de Cundinamarca, Colombia
Departamento de Antioquia, Colombia
Project duration
2024 - 2027

Around 99% of the productive units in Colombia are micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). They contribute to 80% of the employment and to 40% of the country’s GDP. Among the issues that hinder the Colombian SMEs growth potential are the following:  

  • Low participation in global markets: the country’s commerce per-capita is 1 231 USD, less than half of the average for Latin America (3 051 USD), less than 10 firms are responsible for over 50% of exports - mainly because of the high dependence on extractive industries. Diversification of products, firms, and destinations is critical for the development of Colombia’s economy.
  • Low innovation: Colombia ranked as the 63rd economy of 132 analysed by the 2022 Global Innovation Index. The country shows a below-the-average performance in the knowledge, technology, and creativity outputs.

The SME sector in Colombia faces a gap between the available support programmes and the specific needs of each enterprise. Most of the public and private initiatives offer generic solutions that do not address the specific challenges and opportunities of each SME. Moreover, the private consultants that offer specialised services are often too expensive. In this scenario, having access to high-quality expertise, especially regarding international and regional experts, is beyond the average SME’s capacities.

The project

Swisscontact’s Senior Expert Contact (SEC) approach pairs voluntary working senior experts with SMEs in developing countries for short-term consultancies. In Colombia, the project develops a wide network of Latin American and international experts to provide support for Colombian SMEs. The experts will guide through consultancy assignments SMEs with high-growth potential in the development of their products, services, marketing, or management systems. Each advisory assignment creates an individual, catalytic solution for the SME to improve the quality of products or services, resulting in higher competitiveness and revenue. This in turn leads to job creation and improved global market access in the long run.

Assignments can be on-site, remote or hybrid, lasting between two and twelve weeks. SMEs are expected to co-finance each assignment. At the end of each assignment, the SME will receive both the knowledge as well as a series of recommendations to foster their growth to be implemented by the beneficiary with periodical follow-ups from the project team.

Project goals

  1. Increasing the income of the beneficiary SMEs by tapping into their growth potential
  2. Creation of jobs in the beneficiary SMEs
  3. Improving access to international markets for the SMEs
  4. Creating and strengthening a regional network of senior, voluntary experts who share their knowledge with SMEs in Latin America
  5. Foster the exchange of knowledge and experience between Switzerland and Colombia


Expected Results

  • At least 100 Colombian SMEs will profit from the advisory services with 30% of them going through at least a second consultancy assignment.
  • By 2029, 160 new jobs created by the SMEs supported by the SEC assignments.
  • By 2029, the SMEs will have an increase in income of at least USD 6 million.
  • Supported SMEs will have a higher chance of accessing international markets and start exporting their goods and services.
  • Consolidate a network of at least 100 Colombian experts who can support SMEs in Colombia and Latin America.

Financing partners

This project is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA.

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