Bolivia: “Orange Economy”, the great cultural contribution and ideas, invisible in the Bolivian GDP

In Colombia, the orange economy represents 3.4 percent of its gross domestic product, which means that it is an income that moves more than coffee in this country; in Mexico, the creative economy (as it is known there) represents 3.2 percent, and employs 2.5 percent of its development workforce; and in all of Latin America, it is estimated at approximately 3.4 percent, according to intellectual property parameters.

And in Bolivia? In Bolivia, as incredible as it may seem, there are no indicators on this concept, no one took care to measure its contribution, and many instances of the government did not even hear of it. In Bolivia, there are many enterprises dedicated to this area, some with encouraging results, but without knowing that they make orange economy.

Photo: Goh Rhy Yan
Photo: Goh Rhy Yan

This is one of the first conclusions in which at least 15 national and international experts arrived, gathered last week in the Pulso Naranja event, the first of its kind, organized by Unifranz in Cochabamba.

And if the problem is national, it is also a problem for Cochabamba. “We, as Cochabambinos have had two bitter disappointments: we are not the granary of Bolivia, and we do not have an infinite grain of exploitable and exportable oil. So, where does the economy of Cochabamba grow?”, questions Unifranz’s vice-rector, Rolando López. And he answers to himself: Cochabamba has a high potential in orange economy, with 200 companies that develop software (JalaSoft, as icon), with its emblem of gastronomic capital of Bolivia, its tourist potential, its culture and all the creative contribution in fashion, architecture and music. This added to the climate, for health tourism and the educational epicenter, make Cochabamba an ideal melting pot for the orange economy. One visitor even pointed out that the sunlight in Cochabamba is the ideal place to take the best pictures.

Therefore, one of the first activities of this meeting was the creation of an Observatory of orange economy, which can gather the measurement parameters and whose first contribution is, precisely, to establish the percentage of contribution to the GDP of Bolivia, and in function to it, to propose lines of integration and support.
“We have understood that it is necessary to promote the orange economy, first by generating attraction, so that everyone knows what an orange economy is, and then by painting those economic agents and chaining them in orange, so that everyone can see that they are the pillar of the economic transformation of society,” adds López.

The Mexican expert in creative economy Paulo Mercado explains that in his country, this item moves 3.2 percent of GDP and employs 2.5 percent of the workforce. Curiously, he found no information on Bolivia. “The first and most convenient thing is to detect what we have in our regions, and to see their needs, not only economic, but also for education and training,” he explains in time to identify gastronomy, tourism, regional festivals, as the great potentials of Cochabamba. Another proposal: to make both creators and consumers aware that creativity also has an economic value.

The Colombian delegation, in whose country the orange economy accounts for 3.4 percent of its GDP, also presented many proposals for Cochabamba. Juliana Acevedo, from Buenaventura, a city similar to Cochabamba for its gastronomic image, suggests linking regional culinary art with tourism and culture as attractions.
Leydi Higidio, also from Colombia, suggests that government agencies should return a percentage of production costs to films filmed in Cochabamba, as this film will attract tourism.


The orange economy generated in the world 547 billion dollars in 2012 (according to data from Unctad), and 29.5 million jobs, the latter equivalent to those in the United Kingdom.

For Latin America and the Caribbean, the orange economy represented 1.9 million jobs in 2015, comparable to everything generated by the economy of Uruguay or Costa Rica in one year.

All these data reveal the high contribution of the orange economy, which, however, are not made visible by the governments of many countries, including Bolivia.


“In Mexico, the creative economy moves 3.2 percent of GDP and this represents 2.5 percent of the labor force. The first and most convenient thing is to detect what we have in our regions, and see the needs not only economic, but also for education and training. We artists must be aware that what we produce is worthwhile, and then sensitize others to recognize our value. Paulo Mercado. Creative economy expert (Mexico).

“In 2001, the IDB began to measure what had moved the GDP of per capita income and generated work in countries like Colombia. And it was discovered that it was within the creative, it was something intangible, of young people under-30, without knowing what umbrella was on top of it. There was no market valuation. Through Colombia, we got that umbrella, and it was the private universities that led. In Argentina the problem is that we don’t have trainers of trainers. Liana Sabbatella. Expert in orange economy (Argentina)

“Buenaventura is a city in the Pacific that, due to its gastronomic value and Afro-Colombian knowledge, deserved Unesco’s designation as a creative city of gastronomy. What is sought is that the identity is preserved and that from there economic development is generated. I think it is one of the sectors with the most potential in Cochabamba. It is necessary to chain the gastronomic culture with tourist and other themes”. Julia Acevedo. Buenaventura culture manager (Colombia).

“In the ICT field, one could say that it is within the economy of services, but we cannot isolate ourselves from what the future and society want. It’s not just rented technology, but art, mixed with user learning, knowing what the user thinks and feels, and we need to develop human talent, and that means orchestrating everything we’re trying to develop. We’re behind a law on exports of services. Karem Infantas. Expert in ICT and technologies (Bolivia).

“I have been working for three years in the appropriation of cultural icons and communicating them, in fashion. A previous research work is done. I have worked with Gladys Moreno, Juana Azurduy, Afro-Bolivian or Beni culture. Now, fashion makes all this visible: everything there is in the country that we don’t exploit in the best way. The spearhead has been generated in Cochabamba. Fashion is being given a space, art. Luis Daniel Ágreda. Fashion designer (Bolivia).

“What we share is how the work of value can be formalized and make tangible creative knowledge. We have crossed the value chain with trends, such as market-oriented design, rhythm, sustainability and personalization, ideation exercises, a business model where the presence of a technical entrepreneur is essential, who has knowledge in the creative and administrative part. Juan Fernando Loayza. Researcher Inexmoda (Colombia).



One of the first fruits of the Orange Pulse meeting was the creation of an Observatory, which identifies the actors of this economy and measures their contribution, so that once the data are available, policies and demands can be elaborated, according to Roberto Araníbar, national coordinator of Mercosur, cultural ambassador of Unfranz, and in charge of this Observatory,

The Observatory had begun with an agreement between Unifranz and the Federation of Private Business Entities of Cochabamba (FEPC), and to direct it, agreements were established with the Argentine Chamber of Cultural Businessmen and the Mercosur Cultural Network.

As Araníbar explains, there are several creative cultural industries, where the arts, cinema, music, design, fashion, software, videogames, gastronomy, tourism… but which are not recognized as professions, not even for the identity card. For this reason, the orange economy is invisible and no government agency has meters to identify its economic contribution, with common patterns throughout Latin America.

These results will be published quarterly to establish a presence. “If they don’t see you, you don’t exist. That’s why we have to make ourselves visible. Because there is no orange economy for the banks or for the government,” concludes Rolando López.

And why does it arise in the University? For the same reason, because neither for the State nor for the private sector is the development of innovation development research important, adds López.

On the other hand, universities have young people who can be taught research and economics according to what is needed inside.

Author: Fernando Avendaño La Prensa