Cabrera y Febles Arquitectura: The willpower of the internationalization
CF Cabrera Febles Arquitectura Paisaje y Urbanismo is a company that offers professional services. It is based in Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. It was founded in 1995 by the architects María Nieves Febles Benítez and Agustín Cabrera Domínguez, who had been working together since 1981. The architect Víctor Cabrera Febles was added to the company in 2007 and it also counts with the regular collaboration of many professionals specialized in different areas with experience in both the local and international markets.
"Going overseas has not been an easy task. It required great efforts: economic efforts and adaptation to local bureaucracies and different systems. The uncertainty and lack of awareness of the procedures regulating the market business opportunities for multilateral financial institutions were sometimes frustrating."
Among the services provided, the company has carried out many projects for both the public and the private sectors, taking advantage of its wide experience in every aspect related with urbanism, architecture and landscape architecture.
The consulting firm started its process of internationalization in 2009 motivated by the ten years experience they had cooperating with NGO Asociación Canaria Dakhlet-Nouadhibou, with which they carried out some small education and health projects in Mauritania. The CF architectural bureau participated from 2009 to 2012 in the Programa de Iniciación a la Promoción Exterior, PIPE (Program for the Promotion of Exterior Activities) with the Chamber of Commerce and Proexca (Governmental Agency for the promotion of the internationalization of Canarian companies), and in 2013 in the program Canarias APORTA, promoted by Proexca. Since then, CF Cabrera-Febles, sometimes by themselves and some others in cooperation with other firms, has participated in several tenders getting some important contracts.
Cebrera-Febles went for the internationalization because on one hand it was the natural step for the company to take a qualitative leap forward, and on the other to find alternative markets due to the crisis that the sector was suffering at the moment. The workload for Canarian architects has gone down drastically in the last few years, being one of the sectors that have suffered most deeply the country economical crisis. That work load has decreased 95% since 2006, as showed by the ISTAC statistics.
Under a such bleak situation most architectural bureaus have been adversely affected, some of them went out of business but others have showed a strong desire to stand by and they have reinvented themselves to better adapt to the global market, as explained by the ICEX Constructive Applications and Architecture Manager, Jimena Martínez de la Riva:
“The cost in economic and human terms for the architecture sector is obvious. The motivation (to go for the internationalization) has been more caused by an urgent work need than by a planned strategy. Besides from learning the language, it is necessary to study new work models: multi-disciplinary collaboration, cooperation with local firms, higher work specialization, which is in contrast with the traditional generalist profile of the Spanish careers”.
For those reasons, the public sector should support the internationalization of this sector with the goal of guaranteeing the survival of a business network that represents the “Marca España” (Spanish brand) with great dignity thanks to its high technical skills and cultural sensitivity. As stated by the president of the Consejo Superior de Colegios de Arquitectos de España, CSCAE (High Counsil of the archicetrure bar asscociations of Spain), D. Jordi Luvevid:
“The Spanish architecture has two distinctive competitive factors. The first one is academic training in technology and urbanism, which is not necessary the case in other countries. The second is the experience of having built, during the last 30 years, what we may call the “permanent capital of democracy”. That is, all kind of buildings and public facilities like hospitals, schools, universities, developing of urban areas… since the Spanish transition to democracy to the collapse of the economic bubble.
Presently, Cabrera-Febles is carrying out the certifications regarding the construction of ten health care facilities in Equatorial Guinea that have been finished this year, 2017. We are still conducting the researches for the land-use urban planning of the urban areas of Agadir, Morocco, and we will soon start the research for the land-use urban planning of Taroudant, Morocco, awarded to the business association of Cabrera-Febles, Walter Beltrán, Asociados SLP and the architect Gumersindo Trujillo in February, 2017.
We are also waiting for the results of a tender of the African Development Bank for the developing of the National Land-use Planning of São Tomé and Príncipe islands, that we could request after being included in the short list.
Urban planning services are the most demanded ones and the workload related with them has not decreased during these years.
The biggest problems going overseas were by far the difficulties finding reliable support (a partner, an organizer, a referent) in situ, that could fit the requirements for guarantying the right development of the projects, that could help to speed up the learning process about the local situation (in every aspect) and that could helped us to solve small bureaucratic issues in case it was necessary. Occasionally we got the support of the Spanish OFECOMES (exterior economic and commerce offices of the Spanish government) to speed up the access to the necessary visa documents to enter into Equatorial Guinea.
Going overseas has not been an easy task. It required great efforts: economic efforts and adaptation to local bureaucracies and different systems. The uncertainty and lack of awareness of the procedures regulating the market business opportunities for multilateral financial institutions were sometimes frustrating. Nevertheless, once acquired the experience to figure out real opportunities, we can assert that it is worthy to open to the international market: the drive for expansion and the prestige obtained by competing and getting established in a global market have a rewarding and positive effect on the company.
Marinieves Febles Benítez
Administradora solidarias de Cabrera-Febles Arquitectos
Tel: + 34 922 205 806
Artículo relacionado: UTE Beltrán-Cabrera-Trujillo Arquitectos: agrupados para mayor garantía de éxito.
Translated by Daniel Palacios Martínez, March 5 th 2018