Posted on behalf of Josh Leiling
During George Mason’s Global Residency, one of the MBA program requirements, I learned that it’s much more difficult for foreign competitors to start a business in Brazil than American businesses may realize. As discussed by a panel of entrepreneurs we visited, Americans interested in doing business here are faced by a barrage of barriers, from a complex tax code that most Brazilians don’t understand, inability of most Brazilians to speak English (including Sao Paulo and Rio), and transportation or other infrastructure improvements that are badly needed. In their words, a start-up in Brazil is “crazy,” even for Brazilians.
The sooner Americans can accept that they need strong connections with local experts to do business here, the better off they will be. Brazilian business partners will be crucial for any American endeavor and will be a core asset in figuring out how to navigate the complexities of the legal system and culture. Despite these challenges, the future in Brazil is indeed bright. You can see it in the warm hearts and smiling faces that greet you in hotels, restaurants, and in the market where fruit salesmen will cut you a nice fresh sample of maracuja.
Brazil has so many resources, both natural and human. Based on our site visits, it appears that the government and companies here are unapologetic and supportive of giving special advantages to Brazilian businesses so that they remain competitive on a global scale and within the nation itself. For example, I learned that Pretrobras is required to be majority controlled by the government and that BNDES will provide low-interest capital to foreign businesses but only if they are legally established entities in Brazil. Thus, when considering this country’s growth potential it appears that Brazilians would be most open to receiving help from American businesses to maximize the efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of the country’s resources.