Central American Opportunity
Better known for its violence, Honduras lies only 48 hours via container ship from Miami, and even closer to New Orleans. Honduras is becoming safer, and is focusing on anticorruption efforts, as well as significant economic stabilization priorities. Labor in Honduras is relatively inexpensive and the government is highly motivated to bring in foreign investment. Investing in the country is not without its drawbacks, but for the right company seeking profit, while being willing to pay a fair wage by local standards in exchange for hard and honest work, a substantial opportunity exists.
When comparing Honduras to China and Mexico, substantial considerations benefit Honduras. Labor is relatively cheap in Honduras with a minimum wage in manufacturing of approximately $500 per month. While labor protections are fairly strong, including required payment for additional annual months, which bring the minimum wage slightly higher, the impact of this is minimal compared to other developing countries. Transportation times are substantially shorter than sourcing product in Asia or Africa, and although longer than Mexico, the additional time is relatively inconsequential considering savings in labor. Adding to the benefits is the current relative strength of the U.S. Dollar.
Within the country, substantial infrastructure improvements have taken place and are taking place. These improvements are focused on major corridors between Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and Puerto Cortes. The President of Honduras has been working on free trade zones, which could be utilized for additional cost savings; though opposition to this based on a number of issues may derail his efforts.
Like doing business anywhere in the developing world, local connections are everything. Local and national NGOs are dedicated to providing sustainable long term jobs, and providing economic growth and stability. Good local and even national government officials recognize that profit oriented business is the best and most efficient means to economic growth. Connecting with these people is of the utmost importance.
24Honduras is a country desperately in need of increased stability and true investment. While the many donations and people with good intentions who send money to and spend time in Honduras do a lot of good, a profit driven company, providing stable jobs in a safe environment will ultimately have a much broader and deeper impact.