By: Ma. Fernanda Soria @mafersoria
It is no coincidence that some of the most representative businessmen of the city are members of the Guayaquil Chamber of Commerce, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote trade development, sources of wealth and business. The Chamber supports all of its members—large, medium and small—and cooperates with the expansion of their activities.
Dr. Eduardo Peña Hurtado is the current president of the Guayaquil Chamber of Commerce, a trade union organization that has 121 years of operation in the country. Peña has a medical degree; however, he was always involved in business administration, which is why after spending five years (from 1985 to 1990) practicing medicine, he decided to devote himself to business.
“In the 90’s, I was resident at the Kennedy Clinic, a physician who specialized in the United States decided that residents should stay in the clinic at least four hours after the 24 hour call, that meant we had to stay from eight a.m. till noon visiting patients. At that time the salary of a doctor was somewhat less than the subsistence minimum, which was s/. 18,000; we earned about 14,000, and that number was not enough for me. I was already linked to commercial and financial activities, I was runing an exchange house in that time then I decided to stop working at the clinic and devote myself entirely to business. So I left medicine practice because my incomes came from business rather than medicine.”
That is why Dr. Pena did a Masters in Business Administration, he also held a marketing degree from Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral and studied e-commerce at the same institution; he trained in a course called comprehensive program to address business too. “When I went into business, I had to learn doctors are not so good at reading balance sheets,” said the businessman.
Eduardo Peña is member of the Chamber of Commerce since his company Cablevision (currently seized), started in 1989. Peña stopped representing it legally when it was seized.
Following what happened with Cablevision, Peña decided to form with a partner, the company that he currently runs: Unicorn. This company is dedicated to software develop for mobile phones. “We create applications for Blackberry and iPhone. Actually, we are authorized by Apple developers,” he said.
When Peña took office, the camera had an ISO 9000 certification and served about 10,000 people a month. “We provide training, an average of 30 per month, with an emphasis on electronic commerce because it is a major cost saver and businesses become more efficient, regardless of size. We are about to issue certifications of signatures, digital certificates because we think it also decreases the amount of paper you need. That’s what we’re putting more effort in… alleviating the operational costs of the chamber members with the use of technology,” stressed the president of the chamber.
Peña hopes to modernize the chamber’s system during his two years of administration, “you have the hardware and software enabling it to offer online services in a major way. The hardware part is finished, we made structured wiring in the building, we changed the servers, we now have two servers, the chamber had a traditional administration, and now it has a much more powerful technological tool. We are bidding for the software that will provide CRM (Customer Relationship Management), a marketing program that serves to customer databases and how to optimally reach them, and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner) a global system across all areas of the company, the idea is that all information is shared. We are in conversation with a couple of companies to reach an agreement. In parallel, we are working with another company to issue digital certificates, the plan is to have a 21st century chamber, ” said Eduardo Peña, who hopes to finish what he has planned at the end of his term, in June 2012.
BUSINESS CLIMATE IN THE COUNTRY
“I’m worried that the government has not signed the FTA with the European Community and the United States. The investment attraction becomes complicated, when Latin America has changed, and all our neighboring countries have signed free trade agreements. The fact that we do not have such agreements complicates investments. It makes Ecuadorian product expensive. This has led Ecuador to grow very little in the last four years; it only has increased by 3%, while in Latin America where the average is about 4%.
Entrepreneurs have to sit and dialogue with the government to find out a way to change this situation. We have meetings with government ministers, we are concerned about the security issue, we are proposing a forum this month to try to get the Mayor and the President of the Republic together, so they can hear from the mouth of an expert what steps to continue to in order to fight delinquency, which is something that concerns us all. Since the crime wave is unstoppable, we need to do something, so we put pressure on authorities for our rights to be respected and we can walk freely on the streets and squares without fearing criminals,” said Peña, who, as a businessman, expects to stay current in the rapidly changing technology market.