Portugal's PHC Software, which sells software for business companies in Portugal, Spain, Angola and Mozambique, is starting operations in Latin America this year, initially with a base in Peru from where it wants to add two other countries.
PHC Software Director of Expansion Ceu Mendonca said in a telephone interview from Lisbon that the opening of a head office for Latin America in Peru comes 16 years after the company's founding in Portugal and six years after the opening of its offices in Spain. The company's current annual global revenue is approximately $8.7 million U.S.
"We started to study some Latin American countries like Colombia, Chile, Panama and Peru and what we saw is that Peru had great potential and a large set of companies which are growing and in need of management systems," Mendonca
Unlike in Brazil, which shares a language with Portugal, the economies in Peru and other Latin American countries are more open to foreign companies, Mendonca said. "It is not easy for a company from Portugal to go to Brazil," she added. Cultural differences between Brazil and Portugal can also be significant, she said.
"What we have for the next years is an investment (in Latin America) of $1 million and our objective is to have in the region 200 clients within two years," Mendonca said. The company is targeting small- and medium-size companies, she said.
Spain, Angola and Mozambique, which are the company's current export markets, represent 4 percent of total revenue, but with the company's expansion into Latin America, the expectation is to bring export revenue up to 20 percent of the total global revenue within five years. Software will continue to be developed in Portugal.
Latin American countries like Peru are an opportunity for companies like PHC software because "in Portugal small companies have grown already for years in the use of management systems but in countries like Peru many are still using spreadsheets,"
Companies that operate in distribution, store management and production in Latin America have shown an openness to receiving products from abroad,
Unlike the African markets where the company operates, which are seeing fast development in the number of companies, companies in Latin America have already been created but now "have the need of getting organized,"
"We are market leaders in Portugal with 140 employees and 25,000 clients so we have the experience to contribute," Mendonca said.