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Doing Business in Lima

Red tape and bureaucracy in general have diminished tremendously in the past 15 years in Peru, and there is a strong pro-investment climate. But there are still many instances that can test your equanimity.

There is a difference, of course, between setting up a small business in Peru and opening a branch office for a major investor, but the way can be made smoother at all levels if you keep in mind the following tips, suggested by French entrepreneur Valerie Barbier, who last year launched her Mishki natural skin care products company, and Jim Plunkett, an American businessman and a former manager of the American Chamber of Commerce, who has been an exporter and involved in many business projects in Peru for over 25 years.

  • Patience. And you will need a lot of it. Setting up a business doesn't happen overnight – information for all the documentary processes (red tape) tends to be spoon-fed, one morsel of data at a time, and you can find yourself going back again and again to be told that you need to give one more piece of information. Getting angry won't help, and can often hinder the process.
  • Persistence – don't give up, keep going back until you get what you need.
  • Learn to accept a bureaucrat's excess optimism at face value, and also to accept their need to tell you what they think you want to hear –that the permit is ready this week, that the inspection will be made tomorrow, etc.
  • No bribes: do not be discouraged by the paperwork and the suggestions that a bribe might smooth the way. You can fix anything and everything without greasing any palms.
  • Don't expect others to meet your deadlines: take into consideration that work is done at a more leisurely pace.
  • Don't rely on others to get the most important things done, or at least keep a close supervision.
  • If your client is a native Spanish speaker but speaks to you in English, stay with him. Don't try to practice your Spanish until he changes channels. Many local businessmen like to practice their English and it can be to your advantage.
  • If your line of business leads you to contact large companies and major investors, you might want to consider joining Club Empresarial. It has virtually replaced the Club de La Banca and others, and has very good facilities for meeting with clients, running seminars, and enjoying cultural activities. It also has a good gym with instructor, squash, and great locker and bath facilities for business executives, both men and women. It is located next to the Swisshotel in the Centro Camino Real center, San Isidro (http://www.clubempresarial.com.pe/). Contact Susana Rodriguez-Larran or Cecilia Andrade at 215-9000.
  • Contact the chamber of commerce of your country. It may or may not be worth your while to become a member, but they usually have good information sources, and their lunches, talks and seminars are open to the general public.

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