Localization is a necessary process for any organization looking to cross cultural boundaries. Large multinational companies and organizations have been localizing for years, but what about new industries and small businesses? This j-term I participated in Frontier Market Scouts to try to figure out if localization management had a place in the
field of social entrepreneurship and what I found were huge gaps in the industry. First let me explain quickly what social entrepreneurship is. At its most basic it is profit + impact, or rather businesses that function with some social or environmental issue in mind. Take for example Frogtek, this is a small start-up working in Columbia providing affordable tracking technology for small scale retailers. It’s really an impressive idea so I thought I would forward the webpage to a small business owner I know in Paraguay. But wait… I couldn’t because the website isn’t available in Spanish. Latin America is increasingly plugged into the web (I can tell you that from the number of Facebook posts I have scrolling down my screen from former students in Paraguay) so to not use that marketing tool really puts the company at a disadvantage when it comes time to scale into new markets.
I think that for new companies, they have so much on their plate and so many barriers to deal with that language and culture sometimes take backseat to more pressing issues. I would also be interested to know how accessible the translation industry is to new companies. Is it financially viable? Where do you go to get quality translation if you are going to privately contract?
It’s time for localization to find small business. People are out there doing incredible and innovative things. Let’s help them get it done.