Like an entrepreneur half the battle in Brazil was too survive in the short run. As the mullet has often been described ‘business on top and ‘party at the back’, this was very much the motto on the Brazil trip, as all the students tried to experience both the business culture and the social culture. The country was infinitely wealthier than I had presupposed and the level of wealth in Sao Paolo was quite astonishing at times as we passed by a whole street of car shops selling Lamborghinis, Porsches etc. Even Ireland in it’s hey day never saw such levels. However, this is juxtaposed with poverty showing the sharp contrast between the haves and have not’s which is not apparent in Europe. However, it was interesting how business opportunities can exist in both arenas and the interesting lecture we had in how to incorporate poorer communities with large scale businesses in an inclusive style of entrepreneurial businesses.
The opportunities initially appear endless as it rushes headlong forward in growth, the group spends the week between beers (which is rare) attempting to comprehend whether it is purely a commodity boom or a more sophisticated economic development. No one really had the answer, yes it is a commodity boom but at the same time its hard to understand until you are there that Brazil is nearly a continent in itself. What are the chances for Irish business in such an environment? I spoke with a friend who is doing business in Brazil; and while opportunities exist it is not the easy win that people might think. Very few speak English, regulation is extremely confusing, long term financing is difficult to find, local trading partners are required as well as many other barriers? This brings us back to our first point whether an incumbent business can it survive in the short to medium term without cash flow. Many of our fellow students did not financially survive to see a second week in Brazil while some of those who stayed on could be paying back for a considerable time. There might be a lesson in there somewhere.
– Colm O’Reilly