Kevin Smith, our London Chairman, has traveled out to Brazil for the Exporting is Great campaign.
After an overnight flight, I arrived at the impressive Sao Paulo international airport and on to the hotel which lies within one of the business districts of the city. I later found myself drawn to the wonderfully named Haddock Lobo Street and from there to Alameda Lorena with a great market and street food (which I couldn’t resist!). Sao Paulo has an extensive logistic and infrastructure network, and traffic to match, so it has been an assault on the senses. Luckily I have met the team from Thalion who are out here and have been doing business here for a few years - so I will be guided by them!
Now it's down to business meeting UKTI teams from Brazil, Chile and Argentina and the 20 businesses who have come on the trade mission to explore what we can do together. Until recently Brazil was considered a "no brainer" in terms of an investment territory. Recently there is no doubt that some people have found it tougher, but despite that, Foreign Direct Investment and M&A activity is still considered strong.
Lord Maude opened proceedings yesterday and I had an interesting conversation with him where we discussed the role of the non-government sector. We talked about the fact that the public and private sector should naturally come together - exporting businesses are generally fascinating businesses.
I have been inspired by the delegates I have met so far and the great stories they have to tell. One to start with is Mina Patel from VCFL (Video Conferencing for Learning). Mina began her exporting journey as a result of a being spotted as a successful blogger. After winning a contract in Uruguay, she is back to do the same elsewhere - education is a key strength of the UK.
Perhaps this blog will be read by Brazilians, after all it’s described as the social media capital of the universe with an estimated 79 percent of Internet users already active on social platforms (eMarketer “Social Network Users in Brazil,” April 2013). I guess you would expect that in a country where the average age is around 30 years old. People are embracing new solutions here, particularly innovative businesses with new business models and digital approaches. I ask myself what new solutions can we take from the UK?
Overall I have been impressed with what I've seen so far. I It's obvious that opportunity is here in Brazil - and so are we. Exporting is Great!