7 of the Best Latin American Countries to Start a Business

It might be a palapa bar on a white-sand beach, deep-sea fishing tours, a restaurant, a surf shop, importing t-bone steaks, teaching English, making cheese, exporting art work…

Whatever your idea, there’s a place overseas where you can make it a profitable reality. But readers ask us all the time: Where is best? That’s why we’ve put together International Living’s first-ever Business Index.

Some expat entrepreneurs say they had a niche in mind before they left home—a dream they brought with them overseas. Like 46-year-old Canadian, Daphne Newman. She took her passion for good food to a white-sand beach in Roatan, Honduras and opened her own restaurant there.

Other entrepreneurs say they’re inspired when they arrive in a new place and discover a need. Like Cole LaValley who didn’t have a particular business in mind when he arrived in Medellín, Colombia. But seeing an opportunity, he grabbed it. Now he owns his own hostel.

Still others purposefully seek a real life change.

Lucky and Erin Ivy left their exhausting, 12-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week jobs to buy a small resort in Placencia, Belize.

“What a relief it was to leave five-lane, bumper-to-bumper traffic and adopt a bicycle as our primary means of transportation,” says Erin. “Culture shock? You bet…and we loved it. Instead of grabbing a Starbucks rushing out at 5:30 a.m., we now linger over our coffee while gazing out at the exquisite Caribbean Sea, palm trees, and white-sand beach… It’s like being on vacation all of the time.”

In some places, just being from North America gives you an advantage. U.S-style services may not be well-developed in your new overseas home. Once you’re on the ground, you can spot the gaps—and they look a lot like opportunity.

Alabaman Henry Guy, saw a gap in the lack of English-language training in Quito, Ecuador. He drafted a business plan in 1999…and today his school teaches 25,000 students a year. Jon Hurst wanted to continue “enjoying hammock time” in Panama, but he needed to make money. One day he realized you couldn’t get fresh bagels in Panama City.

Now you can—and Jon’s running the business that sells them.

It doesn’t matter if you’re seasoned in business or if it’s your first time out—some markets are custom-made for entrepreneurs.

They’re places on the upswing. And in the current issue of International Living magazine we’ve pinpointed the seven best. These are all destinations where doing business is relatively easy, opportunities abound, and the outlook is positive.

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