The 2011/11/30 at 06:40
Valérie Demon, in Madrid
Set up in 1999, Gowex, with 70 employees, defies the ambient moroseness. This SME will end the year 2011 with a turnover that has moved up to over 66 million euros, compared with 49.6 million in 2010. Specialised in the setting up of Wifi services in cities, Gowex has equipped around fifty municipalities, mainly in Spain. Madrid is thus the only city in Europe to benefit from free Wifi for passengers on its 2,200 buses. "Citizens and tourists benefit from this, it’s an added value that the city has not stripped away despite the crisis", indicates the CEO, Jenaro García-Martín.
Present in Latin America, chiefly in Chile and Buenos Aires (Wifi in public transport), Gowex is now targeting China. After the signing of an agreement with a Chinese company, the small Spanish SME will be equipping Chinese high-speed trains with Wifi. "We are in the pilot phase," specifies the CEO. With offices in Shanghai, London, Paris, Buenos Aires, Paris and Costa-Rica, Gowex has managed to weave a network that is the key to its survival. The company also works for large operators. "The 3G networks are saturated, some lines will therefore pass through Wifi; that’s where we come in."
By 2015, demand will multiply by 27. Half of this progression will be absorbed by 4G, the rest by Wifi. Yet the company’s debut was difficult. "I drew lessons from failures. For other SMEs in the country, the same thing will happen: they will emerge much stronger, more powerful, ambitious, globally minded, as exporters. This is the positive side of the current situation," declares Jenaro García-Martín. Today, his company makes between 34 and 38% of its turnover overseas, by taking risks. "When we placed our bets on wireless in 2004, we had no clients. They only appeared in 2007, but we were ready."
Jenaro García-Martín hopes for support from the new government: "SMEs generate 80% of Spanish jobs, so the government should facilitate recruitment. This is much more important than facilitating retrenchment! For example, for every employee, on top of the salary, we pay around 50% of this sum in social contributions." In exchange, SMEs will need to make an effort, according to Jenaro García-Martín: "After about twenty years of growth, we lack real ambition for export. While the current crisis is dramatic, it will enable mentalities to evolve", namely by planting "a real culture of effort" amongst Spanish entrepreneurs.