If you are an investor or entrepreneur looking to do business in Lima, you might be interested in knowing that there is currently a strong pro-investment climate in the city, and red tape and bureaucracy in general have diminished notably in the past fifteen years.

The San Isidro Business District. ©Lluisperales

There is a difference, of course, between setting up a small business 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 recently 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 involved in many business projects in Peru.

  • First of all, you will need a lot of patience. Setting up a business doesn’t happen overnight. Information related to all the documentary processes (red tape) and general requirements to set up a business tend to be spoon-fed – one morsel of data at a time – and you can find yourself going back to government offices again and again just to be told that you need to give one more piece of information. Getting angry won’t help, and can often hinder the process.
  • You also have to be extremely persistent. 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.
  • Do not bribe government officials or other employees. 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 different pace, and for many different reasons.
  • If your client is a native Spanish speaker but speaks to you in English, converse with him/her in English. Don’t try to practice your Spanish until he/she 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 Swiss hotel, in San Isidro.
  • If you are looking for an office space, you might consider a workspace like Regus, which has offices available in different parts of the city. You can rent an individual office or desk space for yourself, or a private office for your team. You also have the option of co-working with people from other companies, which helps you save money, network and make the most out of your office hours. Other options for modern office spaces in Lima are: WeWork, Comunal, and Worx.
  • Finally, you can 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 usually open to the general public. At a fee

You might also be interested in our article Finding Jobs in Peru.

We’d like to hear from you. What advice would you give to a business person just starting out in Peru? Share your experience with others in our forum topic: Tips for doing business in Lima