Tag Archives: minas gerais

Brazil: I’ll do it tomorrow if that’s OK?

Business Daily on the BBC World Service today was focused on the possible decision by FIFA to cancel the World Cup games in Curitiba because the stadium is not ready. The BBC is being cautious and waiting for the actual announcement from FIFA, but ESPN has already started reporting that FIFA has taken this decision and Curitiba is officially out of the World Cup.

Of course this would be a disaster for Curitiba. It’s a fantastic city that is clean, safe, and has buses that people actually use. A complete contrast from the edginess of São Paulo or the favelas dotted all over Rio. It’s the last place that you might expect to fail when Brazil has also been building new stadiums in places like Manaus and Cuiabá.

But what I found irksome when listening to the BBC coverage was the vox pops they used when characterising Brazil. There was a university professor who talked about the culture in Brazil that everything can be done tomorrow. There was the miserable commuter who spends hours travelling to and from work each day – on a good day. There was the small business owner who said how terribly difficult it is to do business in Brazil.

The coverage wasn’t balanced or fair. I have complained a fair few times about the challenges of living in Brazil, notably things like the bureaucracy associated with buying an insurance policy or registering a car. Simple transactions that should really be easier, but on balance I actually like it here. It sounds irritating to hear the BBC doing a cultural hatchet job on how all Brazilians are lazy, feckless, and would rather not do anything today because there is always tomorrow.

I run a business in Brazil. If a contractor delivers anything late then I don’t pay them. If they let me down more than once I will never work with them again. If they don’t deliver a quality service then I negotiate a new price. I haven’t had very many problems at all with this idea that nothing ever gets delivered on time – I had far more trouble when I ran a business back in the UK.

Small businesses in Brazil benefit from a simple tax structure. You just pay tax on the revenue coming into your company. No need for complex offsets or depreciation, just pay a fixed percentage on your revenue. Imagine if Starbucks was doing that in the UK, rather than transferring profit to Switzerland therefore reducing the local profit to nothing and therefore paying little or no corporation tax.

And small business owners get paid on time in Brazil. When I send an invoice to a client I tell my bank that I have sent it and who it has gone to AND when they are going to pay. If the company doesn’t pay then my bank will chase the company – like my own debt collection service. Imagine if small companies in the UK could rely on their bank to help them this way? Why don’t they do it?

There is a very vibrant start-up culture in Brazil and loads of technological innovation taking place in the big corporates and the tiny micro-businesses. State governments are handing out cash to entrepreneurs all over the country without demanding equity in return because they are actively trying to stimulate the start-up culture and the benefits that one big success can bring to a region.

My own wife is a part of this scene. She is travelling all over Brazil meeting traditional artisans and joining them together into a collective called Gift Brazil, so they can harness the power of social media tools like Facebook to promote their traditional art and culture. Can you imagine the market a traditional artist in the middle of the Amazon might usually have for their work? Just the odd tourist wandering past perhaps… now they can be seen by the entire world.

I know that balance doesn’t make for a great story. It’s easier to get clicks on a story if you tell a miserable story, rather than try spreading the good news, but in the year of the FIFA World Cup Brazil is getting showered in bad news. Everything is late, the people don’t want it, it will all be a disaster…

Well there are some great interesting projects taking place in Brazil that are redefining how people work, people are demanding and starting to get more political transparency, and some of us are looking forward to the World Cup – even though I don’t have a single ticket for any of the matches!

Toucan eye

 

Photo by Doug Wheller licensed under Creative Commons

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I’m so proud of my wife :-)

Of course I would say that anyway. Everyone would; but Angelica has been up to something special recently and it’s going to launch tomorrow.

Despite her regular work on our IT Decisions company in Brazil, where she is working for several clients including a couple of different US-based publishers and additional work – like commenting this week on entrepreneurs in Brazil for the Commonwealth Secretariat – she is about to launch a new venture.

It’s called Gift Brazil and before even launching she has collected together 3,600 fans on Facebook – all of them are people who just love the idea even though they still can’t buy anything.

Gift Brazil is a collective of artisans in Brazil all using this channel to sell their products. Angelica has her own products on there, but she is also offering the platform to other artisans. It really is connecting very remote rural artisans with the globally connected world… connecting the new and old.

I think this venture is tremendously important. It’s not just about making a few quid from selling gifts, there is so much more to this and this is why I’m so proud of what she is already achieving with the venture.

  • So many “gifts” from Brazil are T-shirts featuring toucans (often not even printed in Brazil) or a new pair of Havaianas flip-flops. This collection of gifts is handmade by rural artisans and curated personally by Angelica and her team – so the buyer knows that they are going to get something genuine and unique.
  • This creates jobs in remote rural communities where traditionally these artists have only ever been able to sell to passing tourists – now Gift Brazil lets them sell to the world – using English (and at no charge to the artist at all).
  • This preserves cultural traditions that have existed in these rural communities for generations. If people can make a living from their art then they will not be forced to abandon it in favour of regular jobs – as many have been forced to do.
  • This promotes digital inclusion as artisans who can use tools like email are already helping out those who can’t and Angelica has some specific plans already in place to fund training sessions – helping people in remote locations get more from the Internet.

I think this is a great idea. Angelica’s idea will create rural jobs in Brazil and create opportunities to sell globally where none existed before – and it gives better products to the buyers with an interest in Brazil. Everyone wins!

I’m really proud that she put this entire project together – with help from her mate Flavia. It already features hundreds of individual items from dozens of artisans and will launch tomorrow (Dec 3rd) at the National Handicrafts Expo in Belo Horizonte – a trade fair with an expected attendance in the region of 165,000 people!

So please take a look at Gift Brazil. Go and Like them on Facebook and please consider buying something from the site. It’s not just about lining the pocket of a big retailer – this cash is heading directly to help out rural Brazil by creating opportunities for these people to trade with the world.

Angelica can be found on LinkedIn here if you are a journalist or blogger and interested in writing about what she is doing with Gift Brazil.

And do take a look at her Instagram too – it’s packed full of the items they are selling and looks fantastic!

O que é a Gift Brazil?