•Free trade zones support more than 180,000 direct and indirect jobs, amid the challenging situation Costa Rica is currently facing.
•Multinationals have developed projects in technology transfer, innovation, and collaboration with the national academy and the Costa Rican Government, for the development of technologies that address this emergency.
San José, Costa Rica. May 27, 2020. In a charitable and voluntary gesture that embodies the values of Free Trade Zone companies, they have donated additional COVID-19 aid in Costa Rica exceeding US$1,1 million (650 million colones), according to data collected by the Costa Rican Investment Promotion Agency (CINDE).
This estimate is based on the market value of materials and supplies donated by these companies since April 1, 2020, and to date. Much of the equipment is already in use by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) health personnel on the front lines of the emergency, as well as by other officials who work in tasks required to manage the situation. These donations include face shields, medications, masks, and diagnostic kits.
The companies have also strengthened their outreach programs to the communities in which they operate, assisting the most vulnerable populations through the donation of food, care packages, and sanitation and cleaning equipment for nursing homes, schools, and more than 500 children's cafeterias that operate through the Ministry of Education (MEP).
Knowledge Transfer and Innovation from Costa Rica
These companies have also made available their vast knowledge, sharing with universities (including the UCR and TEC), local companies, and the Costa Rican Government, in order to develop teams within Costa Rica that are equipped to attend the health emergency.
One of these initiatives is Colab.cr
, led by the Costa Rican Ministry of Science, Technology, and Telecommunications (MICITT), which promotes the development of essential equipment to attend the COVID-19 crisis, including masks, mechanical ventilators, and waterproof clothing, among others.
Companies including Akamai, Boston Scientific
, and MicroTechnologies have collaborated with the University of Costa Rica designing prototypes for 3-D printing of masks and other COVID-19 care products. MicroTechnologies has also restructured its operations to manufacture components
that are now being used by Ford in the United States to manufacture artificial ventilators.
Several days ago, Intel
also announced that a team of engineering professionals is working together with a group from the CCSS to develop predictive mathematical and statistical models to help manage the COVID-19 crisis.
For its part, Microsoft
freely extended its online learning platforms to students and the public, for anyone interested in learning more about information technologies.
The Managing Director of CINDE, Jorge Sequeira Picado, commented, “Multinational companies and free trade zones have demonstrated their commitment to Costa Rica, just now when we need it most. Many companies have retained their contracted personnel, even though many of these companies are impacted, both globally and locally, by consequences of the pandemic; this demonstrates their commitment to nearly 120,000 Costa Ricans. Furthermore, these companies support a chain of 4,000 S&MEs in the country, thus protecting 60,000 indirect jobs.”
Additionally, a few days ago, a survey carried out by CINDE among multinational companies also showed that these companies have ensured both job and business continuity through work-from-home protocols, as well as the adaptation of new health standards for positions that continue to work onsite. It was estimated that 98% of these companies and more than 70,000 collaborators are working 100% remotely and providing first-rate services from Costa Rica, to the world.
Furthermore, more than 1,900 positions are being actively recruited
at multinational companies, and these companies are working in coordination with the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) to relocate affected employees from the tourism industry and link them with opportunities in the free trade zone sector.
Other Private Initiatives
Additionally, these individual contributions are joined by others, in which the private sector (with participation by Free Trade Zone companies) continues to organize in-country support as a gesture of solidarity. The Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), the Business Alliance for Development (AED), and the Costa Rica-United States of America Foundation for Cooperation (CRUSA) made its first delivery to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) of test machines to diagnose COVID-19.
This donation includes 70 GeneXpert test machines and 15,743 test kits, which were acquired through a public-private partnership. This is the first installment of the "Proactive Testing" project. The support of more than 440 donors – both companies and individuals – raised more than US$1.8 million, which funded the purchase of this equipment.
Examples of Individual Initiatives by Free Trade Zone Companies
Donation of more than 20,000 masks and $70,000.
Donation of resources to school cafeterias, which directly benefited more than 10,000 people
Donation of the drug hydroxychloroquine to the CCSS
: Donation of US $25,000 and 800 N95 masks
Local suppliers’ subsidy equaling 100% of their regular income, even without using their services regularly.