It is a pleasure and certainly an honor for me to be invited to write the first article on this page.
Serious and competent work can only be rewarded with good results, and it is no surprise that Roberto Mangraviti’s portal SustentaHabilidade.com has become a reference for the Brazilian Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility business community in less than 2 years of existence. It has been an extra bonus however to realize that, in spite of being written in Portuguese, the portal has been consistently attracting the attention of companies and NGO’s all over the world who are looking for firsthand knowledge of the Brazilian market and very possibly for ways to access this market and expand their activities there. The creation of this International section is therefore aimed at providing the international visitor with insights into the Brazilian business environment as well as providing access to a network of business partners and advisors who can be if invaluable help for the foreigner to wants to explore these new possibilities.
A quick look at Brazil’s main characteristics makes it clear why this country has to be part of every international company and NGO’s strategy for expansion.
Brazil´s territory is the 5th largest in the world, after Russia, Canada, US and China. Its 200 million inhabitants speak the same language and share the same basic culture while fostering a rich and lively regional lifestyle including typical food and music. There are no significant ethnic or religious conflicts. Brazil has large and well developed agricultural, mining, manufacturing and service sectors. A stable economic environment since 1994 has brought a significant increase in household income generating a strong domestic market. Its GDP of 2.3 billion dollars was the 7th largest in the world (EIU, 2013). It a fully established democracy since 1985 and has developed stable institutions and regulations over the years.
Nonetheless there is still a large room for improvement including unequal income distribution, high taxes, poor quality of education, poor logistics, inadequate health services that are either not available or highly expensive and a whole bunch of environmental issues. The combination of existing gaps in Brazilian infrastructure and market in general with a large and reasonably healthy and stable economy create an inviting scenario for technologies, products and services that are already thriving in other countries. A significant portion of the population who has recently moved above poverty line is now ready to embrace more sustainable habits and more socially responsible attitudes through actions from NGOs (non-governmental organizations).
If all that is true, why isn’t Brazil booming with investments and entrance of new players that have the knowledge and the resources to address these gaps? First, because it is just too complicated for the unexperienced foreigner to go through all the red tape and the jungle of laws and taxes in each particular field. Second, because the decision process of most companies and institutions is exasperatingly slow. Add that to the obvious effort involved in presenting a new product or service to the market and getting its acceptance and it will be clear why it is common knowledge among investors that the implementation of any business plan in Brazil takes three times longer than expected.
Should then all this huge potential be left untapped by the potential newcomer? Definitely not. Brazilian operations represent the largest revenue per country for many multinational groups such as Santander (Spain), Telefonica (Spain), Fiat (Italy) and Renner (US).
The way to address this issue is for the international player to gain knowledge on the Brazilian market and to get support from local experts, rather than trying to replicate models and procedures no matter how successful they have been in other countries. Local business associations and bilateral chambers of commerce are always a good way to start and meet potential partners in Brazil. In each particular field there are organizations and well connected experts that are of invaluable help to establish a realistic business plan and get it implemented. In the particular area of Sustainability, Environment and Corporate Responsibility, SustentaHAbilidade.com and their colunists such as Roberto Mangraviti and Ricardo Rose, director of Environment and Renewable Energy for The Brazil Germany Chamber of Commerce are good examples of representative organizations that can provide this type of support.
In short, the potential of the Brazilian market is simply too big for it to be ignored by any company or NGO wanting to expand their activities worldwide, as proved by many successful international enterprises. The path to success lies in having realistic expectations and strong local support.
Claudia holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro and graduated with high distinction as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Michigan Business School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian.
Claudia is the Managing Director of LEMME Consulting and has 30 years of experience in regulatory matters involving water and waste treatment, power generation, oil and gas, petrochemicals medical devices. Claudia has held senior positions in the areas of Business Development, Environment & Sustainability, Oil & Gas and Environmental Protection, Communications, Marketing and Oil and Gas Ventures since 1982 with Promon Engenharia, a longstanding leader of the design engineering industry, with a significant presence in many of the most important Brazilian projects and many other projects abroad.
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