And their Broad contribution to the Caribbean’s Internet Economy
Enter the world of cross continental contributions and you’ll understand the strategy of the European Union. By helping countries in the path of development the EU accelerates the economic growth of some of its key partners with the most efficient capital expenditure possible. One of these projects is the PRIL (a program that fosters civil communication in the DR). The EU contracted *ip’s services to maintain and bolster the presence of this critical program that is targeted directly at the civil community of the DR and Haiti.
PROEMPRESA is another EU program that contracted *ip’s service thru open tender and tasked us with the created of the largest small business portal of the Caribbean. Hosted by Verizon, the ePymes portal was one of our greatest achievements of the last decade, one that got hundreds of thousands of visitors and substantial media attention.
The distinguished ONFED program also contracted our services to enrich the set of online tools available to small business owners in the Caribbean.
Small Business Owners
Small business owners in the Caribbean have a big impact in European big businesses. For one, they are the suppliers of exotic produce and art that are highly demanded in Europe, and they provide touristic and industrial alternatives at such a competitive price that EU businesses can’t easily replace them.
Producing Websites for Small Business Owners
The selection of these strategic small businesses was initially very hard. Officers of PROEMPRESA wanted us to craft websites for three thousand small businesses, however such a task is not sustainable in the long term. Is best to educate the businesses so they become online conversant and then able to use email, social networks and search engines. Then the biggest ones can apply for a website. After a rigorous selection process we ended up working with a handful of impactful small businesses for which we created an onsite development process. Small business owners would then be able to come to our offices and learn about various things related to web development and online tools.
What was the Geographic Impact of this Initiative?
Small businesses with operations in DR, Haiti and Puerto Rico were impacted. Big businesses, restaurants and supermarket chains in Europe, Asia and the Americas were also very impacted. Online ordering means that the global supply chain of tropical and exocit produce is cut in half and the whole process becomes more reliable.
What is Next for the EU And Online Initiatives in the Region?
PROEMPRESA was a two year program that ended up running for four years.Hundreds of similar aid programs are still in operation and Information Providers is proud to contribute in many of them. Perhaps the most notable, the PRIL program is a long running communication program that seeks to enable the civil society at large to use online tools and become more productive. Jordhy Ledesma has been a key consultant in the project and is working towards maintaining the quality and relevance of content that empowers small business owners and professionals across the region. The tools and services created by the PRIL are among the best of the country and they are generally provided free of charge to small business owners and entrepreneurs. These tools and information systems enrich the business relation of any country that transacts with the Republic. *ip is very glad to be an important part of this information revolution that keeps pushing us forward.
Some Technical Facts
ePymes was the first Coldfusion portal of the DR. The technology allows for dynamic PDF generation, interactive form presentation and Verity search. The sophistication of this systems allowed for the presentation of tens of thousands of documents from which the entrepreneurs could choose. The system also allowed for multi-lingual deployment and realtime announcements. Verizon made this possible by donating several servers in their data centers and giving us full control over them. We went on to program on one of the most complex hardware platforms of the Dominican Internet. In such a state of affairs our firm was compelled to excel and deliver very creative solutions to tough communication problems. We made extensive use of Flash animations, ActionScript, some .net technologies, Java, compression technologies, Verity Search, Outlook integration and MS Office dynamic document generation. Products from Macromedia, Adobe, Microsoft and Oracle were instrumental to our achievements.
Impact of the Information Providers’ Portals Developed for the European Union
e-Pymes’ launch had a broad impact in the small businesses of the region. Both residents of Santo Domingo and Santiago regularly access the site to complete various managerial tasks. As a result, the EU commissioned the development of more portals and several indicators grew significantly including funds requests, online visits, company creations (within the PROEMPRESA program) and so on. Today, most small businesses in the DR file their taxes online, register their brand names and logos using the web (in another portal we developed) and generally use the web browser as a natural tool. This benefits European businesses greatly because now they can interact with Latin American suppliers in a very swift fashion.
The impact of the Proempresa, PRIL and ONFED programs thru the technical efforts of Information Providers have increased the speed of business in the region and given businesses across Europe the benefit of dealing with local providers without using the phone. The most succesful of these local businesses, RG Global uses a website developed by *ip and processes monthly shipments of tropical foods and delicacies in the order of tons of produce that enrich life in Europe, the Americas and Asia. Like RG Global, the online tools and services developed by *ip have impacted the live of millions of Americans, Europeans and thousands of local business owners.