Agency of Cooperation and Investment for Medellin and its Metropolitan Area.
The Zonal Center for Business Development (Cedezo) is a program that belongs to the Bank of the Opportunities – Municipality of Medellin, born in the framework of the grand strategy of E Culture (Culture of the entrepreneurship). The CEDEZO program seeks to promote economic development through the promotion and strengthening of the business initiatives and thus improving the living conditions of its inhabitants, especially the most vulnerable. The Cedezo program was framed into the Medellin’s Development Plan 2004 –2007 “Medellin, Commitment of the Whole Citizenship” and into the current Medellin’s Development Plan 2008-2011 “Medellin is Supportive and Competitive”.
The start-up of Cedezo was framed in the opening of the first Cedezo, built in Santo Domingo Savio, a very conflictive and poor neighborhood in Medellin. The opening was on December 18th in 2005.
E Culture is a program sponsored and funded by the Municipality of Medellin, which looks for the culture of entrepreneurship to be massive and to encourage the creation and development of new businesses. The creation of E Culture obeys to the need to invigorate the economy of Medellin through the creation of innovative companies aimed at the demand and generating value of some products and services. The Cedezo programm was created to articulate initiatives to support entrepreneurship, income generation, development and consolidation of micro and family companies, according to five strategic cluster of the city: construction, textiles, energy, health and tourism.
Cedezo’s services consist on provide constant assistance, training programs and meetings for the business development of the districts in Medellin, having as a leader The Bank of the Opportunities.
The services offered in the Cedezo have two lines:
1.Supporting entrepreneurship in the territory:
Trainings on entrepreneurship and business mentality.
Access to credit
2.Strengthening of the existing business activities:
Godfathership and tutorship
Access to markets
Training in business and labor competences
The primary objective of CEDEZO is the improvement in living conditions of the population, meeting the specific needs of companies through integrated programs that create conditions and opportunities for its formation, consolidation and development.
Zonal Centers for Business Development are based on knowledge and understanding of the reality of the areas where they will be located, so that they can identify their specific needs and get to meet the supply that exists in the city in programs of public and private institutions. There must exist, in each center, a permanent research discipline detecting specific needs of the target population.
The CEDEZO is a support system to economic development in a particular area, based on the promotion of entrepreneurship (expansion of the business) and the consolidation and /or development of companies in strategic sectors (building of tissue). Its primary purpose is to strengthen the local economy, taking into account that this intervention should primarily be made based on the strategic clusters that have been prioritized from line 4 of the Development Plan 2004 – 2007 and line 3 of the Development Plan 2008 – 2011.
One of the main objectives of Cedezo is to strengthen the commercialization of products of the entrepreneurs. Approximately during the years 2008 and 2011, Cedezo has had the participation of nearly 6.147 employers in various events and fairs, taking an average income of USD$450.000.000.
The program acceptance by the community has been very positive and has an impact on the issue of economic development in the areas of influence, meaning the Cedezo not as physical space, but as the articulation program between communities, business administration and economics revitalizing areas, creating spaces in which public institutions, private universities and the city gather around development issues.
Another positive aspect is manifested in the decentralization of services in economic development issue by the Mayor to make a physical presence in the communities, which for being a coordinating body, has allowed the creation of meeting spaces around the issue of strengthening the business network of communities, not only zonal institutions, but the entire city, showing a public administration closer to the community.
This is indeed a good project, which has high degree of relevancy to the theme of the Prize and AGFUND mission, whereby its strategic plan is very much structured. Its project approach is consistent with the main issues and assessment results. Moreover, some other regions in Columbia and some Latin American countries already visited and observed the CEDEZO for the possibility their considering as a development model.
The program mapping out was systematically born out of the needs assessment. Its approach was clearly defined and objectives articulated. This made the Medellin Authority frame an E culture through the creation of innovative companies targeted at the demand and generation of values for the needed products and services.
It is to be acknowledged that CEDEZO services are demanded by the local communities. The wide acceptance by the communities and beneficiaries involved is a good indication that the programme is sustainable. In addition, the strong alliances with the private sectors and other agencies dedicated to support business and micro-enterprises is another indication for the sustainability of CEDEZO. Mention should be made that CEDEZO was created not by a government decree or legislation. It was initiated under the Medellin’s Development Plan 2004-2007 in 2005 issued by the Mayor at that time, and included under the current Development Plan 2008-2011. Its continuation/expansion may therefore depend on the political will of the local administration. In view of the fact that CEDEZO Programme is impacting on the important challenges in Medellin which is business creation and job generation, discontinuing the programme by future local administration would require a strong argumentation which presently does not seem plausible. The communities served by CEDEZO have been empowered; it seems unlikely that the local people would willingly agree to any plans for its cancellation.
The social impact of the project is well documented with regard to skills development, increased awareness of beneficiaries of their development potential and their active participation in programmes offered by the project, increased income, and improvement of living conditions in the areas concerned.