Our first stop was CRIVO, a software company aiming to be Brazil’s first recognized credit reporting agency. The software, still in development, will analyze the credit risk of individuals, based on organized data from over two hundred sources. This will create a rating scale similar to the FICO score we utilize in the states. Once their product is launched they will provide credit information to banks, insurance companies, and other such institutions, making loans and investments safer and easier for companies and clientele alike.
The mission of the U.S. Commercial Service is to promote U.S. exports in foreign markets, and given that Brazil boasts the largest economy in South America, its presence is extremely important. After making it through security in what seemed like a small, unpretentious building, students were exposed to a beautiful campus hidden from the streets of Sao Paulo. Here, students learned about the impacts of doing business in Brazil, particularly dealing with negative impacts including high and historically unstable inflation, but also positive impacts such as an increase in foreign direct investment and a stable unemployment rate given the world economic downturn. In the upcoming years, especially due to Brazil’s undertaking to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, it will be interesting to see how the U.S. benefits from trade relations with a growing economy like Brazil.
Due to Brazil’s reliance on renewable energies, including ethanol produced from sugar cane, it was of great relevance to visit ETH, one of the largest ethanol players in Brazil. Brazil’s location and resultant climate and abundance of rain enable the country to produce and depend on ethanol and other renewable energies, which provide for the majority of the country’s energy consumption. Even so, only 1% of arable land is currently being used in the production of ethanol and therefore, the ability and capacity to increase production does exist. ETH has tapped into this market and sells not only ethanol, but also the byproducts resulting from production including sugar as well as the energy generated when the residue from production is burned. While the cost of development is high, the potential for expansion exists and ETH expects to increase production from its current 130 million liters of ethanol to 3 billion liters by 2015.
MSD, otherwise known as Merck & Co. within the U.S. is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and is well known for their discovery, development, and manufacturing of innovative products aimed at improving human health. While at MSD, students learned about the difficult and lengthy process of developing a drug and seeing it through to market. Students also learned more about the current merger that MSD is undergoing and the positive impacts that are expected to result from the process, including the adoption of new and innovative ideas that provide the opportunity for MSD to continue to be one of the world’s largest and most successful pharmaceutical companies.
Promoting the motto “bem estar bem” (“well being well”), Natura is one of Brazil’s leading manufacturers of health and beauty products. Focusing on its image as an eco-friendly company, Natura uses natural products and strives to ensure a sustainable environment through responsible business practices while also providing abundant social support throughout the country. More than 30 years ago, Natura adopted a similar business model to Avon, depending solely on direct sales through its approximately 500,000 consultants. While at the Natura campus, students learned about and toured the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping divisions of the company where efficiency and accuracy help to make Natura the second largest company by sales in the cosmetics and toiletries industry in Brazil.
Our trip to Brazil began with a walking tour of Parque do Ibirapuera. Here we learned about the architecture and design of the park and its significance related to the culture. Following our tour of the park, we visited the Cathedral, which can be characterized by its impressive sculpture and overall artistic designed.
São Paulo FC (Football Club) was gracious to lead a discussion about their business. We met with their marketing director who spoke about the business of developing talented youngsters into international superstars that São Paulo can sell to cash-rich European Clubs. After the discussion we walked the Estádio do Morumbi that is currently in the running to be a stadium venue for the World Cup Brazil is hosting in 2014. The Stadium is massive and has hosted numerous classic matches. It was very exciting when our group was brought down to the field and allowed to really experience being on the field of such a world-class venue.
Our first night in Brazil, several of us ventured out to an Italian restaurant, enjoying good food, good wine, and good company. Not ready to call it a night but unsure where to venture in Sao Paulo, we returned to the hotel lobby and continued the festivities, too excited to call it an early night.
Common to Brazil, a “churrascaria” offers a wide variety of meats through an “all-you-can-eat” process whereby you can determine how little or how much to eat of anything and everything. Our experience at the restaurant can be considered both culturally fulfilling, and filling in general. Out night at Vento Haragano was just one of many entertaining and enlightengin group activities.
It was a Tuesday night in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The weather was nice, a comfortable 75 degrees. I was hanging out in the hotel lobby as I often did when looking for a partner in crime. Francis and Philip soon wandered into my web and we were off. Our trio started by wandering the sketchy streets near our hotel. We soon realized that this was not the right part of town for a few young guys looking for some brews. The streets were quiet, a little too quiet. Francis had and idea (as he often does). He knew of bar district not to far away, but it would require a short cab ride. Philip and I saw no reason to resist, we quickly flagged down a cab and relied on Francis's spanish to direct the portuguese speaking cabbie to right part of town. We arrived in what looked like a quite neighborhood with a couple of cozy corner watering holes. Kind of a laid back Greenwich Village. The streets active but not busy. The reality of a Wednesday night during summer vacation was setting in. We were not going to get into too much trouble, the scene was relaxed. After a quick survey of the terrain, we opted for the busiest bar on the block. The joint was full with about 100 patrons enjoying cold drinks. Waiters bustled around. We each ordered a local beer to try and grasp the Brazilian flavor. Discussion and laughter didn't wait for our buzz to set it. The three of us got along immediately like old friends. The musty breeze passed effortlessly through the old open air bar. Portuguese conversations filled our ears, and the Brazilian custom of publicly displaying affection was apparent on multiple occasions. After finishing our drinks, we settled up with the waiter. He brought his portable credit card machine right to the table. This was very convenient. I can't believe these portable credit machines haven't made it to the US. I had never seen one. We wandered the street a little longer before realizing that the bars were closing at midnight. So, we decided to cut our losses and live to fight another day.