Paraguay is located in the center of South America; it borders Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia. The capital of Paraguay is Asuncion. This country has a population of approximately 7 million and is known for both its wildlife and its lakes.
Paraguay has learned how to harness the power of its waterways, and is a world leader in developing hydroelectricity, which has made it one of the largest producers and exporters of electricity. This has allowed the cost of energy to remain low compared to other countries, which gives Paraguay a competitive business advantage. Another major advantage for companies wishing to do business in Paraguay is its low corporate tax rates.
Paraguay’s main exports are agricultural products. It is famous for its cultivation and exportation of soybeans. Corn, wheat, cotton, and wood round out its main exports. The majority of the Paraguayan workforce is involved in agriculture. Its imports are typically finished goods such as vehicles, consumer goods, chemicals, etc.
A possible concern is that the government of Paraguay has not yet instituted a strategy to increase its production of finished goods. As such, its workforce currently does not have the skill sets to develop higher-order manufactured products.
However, recent reports have indicated that Paraguay is interested in offering companies the opportunity to manufacture and export their goods using the “maquiladora” system, which has been popularized by many global organizations that export their products from Mexico. In addition, Paraguay currently is a member of the Mercosur trade agreement, a marketing tool available to member countries to do business with a market of more than 250 million South American consumers.
A paradox in Paraguay is that although all reports point to this being a land of high literacy, school completion rates are low, and the illiteracy rate is high in rural areas. Until recently, schools were not a top priority in this country, based on teacher salaries and available academic resources. Higher education in Paraguay does not rank highly compared to other South American colleges and universities. Poverty has forced many Paraguayans outside the capital to defer education, and to rely on their children to help with the family finances.
THE STATE OF TRAINING
Companies wanting to do business and develop training in Paraguay will need to start from the beginning. The main languages in Paraguay are Spanish and the indigenous language of Guarani. Your organization will need to offer training in Spanish. English is widely spoken by a small “elite” but will not be understood by the majority of your workforce.
You will need to work with a bilingual trainer if possible—in particular someone who understands North American training and who can infuse your program with your organization’s culture and style. Of course, your expected objectives and outcomes need to be made clear to the trainer.
Formality is expected in the classroom. Trainers are expected to wear business suits. Trainers should address participants by their last names unless asked to do differently. Learners will expect trainers to lecture extensively as they are seen as the experts whose ideas should be heard.
Providing a computer slide show (i.e., PowerPoint) to participants will help them to better understand the training materials and reinforce their learning. Even though Paraguayans don’t like to be “singled out” during training, several multinational companies have introduced some small group work. Companies have had success in introducing case studies in which small groups collaborate to answer provided questions. The trainer can debrief each group individually and then highlight key learnings to the whole class without mentioning specific participants.
Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. For more information, visit www.globaltrainingsystems.com.