A few ideas and thoughts about Brazil and our culture and how some of these factors impact business.

When I started my company Biassa three years ago, like many foreigners who settle in Denmark, I was struggling to find my feet here.

Getting proactive
It all began when I started sharing content from my blog on LinkedIn, and a few companies approached me to ask how much I knew about the Brazilian business environment.

It was then that I realised I could start ‘selling’ my consulting services – a much better option than waiting for the ‘perfect job’ to appear.

The journey hasn’t been easy, but it’s been interesting, as I enjoy talking to all sorts of people from all walks of life. They energise me, give me a different perspective and at times help me with my blind spots.

Getting practical
I get contacted by many foreign students who are either looking for advice or a job. Invariably they’ve just finished their master’s and have spent their time doing a few voluntary jobs and unpaid internships.

I tell them to get practical – to ask themselves: What are you good at? What would you like to accomplish? What is your dream?

And then I ask them whether they have a LinkedIn account.

LinkedIn can be crucial, from sharing short-form posts to articles. Many users, for example, are unaware it has a whole section where you can share slides.

Starting a blog is a good option. That way, when you share content you’ll direct people back there so they can develop a better idea about you.

Getting pragmatic
Maybe I’m being too pragmatic or even conservative, but I’m not sure having a master’s degree means a whole lot nowadays.

We live in a glorious era in which middlemen are vanishing across the globe. For example, have you seen the number of CPG brands that are heading directly to the consumer? Soon we will no longer have a need for headhunters.

This year alone, I’ve received three job offers – in Denmark from Danish companies; no middlemen!

Forget perfect
We live in an age in which we can all be visible. And more importantly, we can be heard.

Remember: the internet is indeed a miracle, but the only way to explore and take advantage of it is by taking action.

So, are you prepared to roll up your sleeves, get practical and start to work, or are you just going to carry on waiting for the ‘perfect job’ to turn up?

There are rumors that might be truth regarding South America’s Pre-history:

As it is now well agreed, the first people to discover America wasn’t Columbus and his crew, but it had been long inhabited for thousands by native tribes.

The Viking raiders had been in America long before Columbus. Their presence in North America is well known but did you know that they also sailed down to South America? There is debatable evidence of Norse writing and runes found throughout South America and particularly here in Brazil. Sadly, they left because I can’t help but wonder how Brazil would have been different if they stayed.

The fact that South America remained unsettled by Europeans allowed the Portuguese Empire to colonize Brazil later in history.

Brazil was colonized by the Portuguese Empire and was officially sanctioned as a Portuguese colony at the beginning of the 14th century, more specifically in the year of 1500.

At the time, Portugal was a rich catholic empire whose main commercial activity was commerce and trade. Portugal had strong alliances doing trade and commerce with countries all over Europe and due to the high profits bestowed from India, China and Indonesia the Portuguese crown was carelessly distracted by their other interests. This “little” distraction from the crown in Brazil led to invasions from several countries onto the Brazilian lands. Desperate to find a solution Portugal decided to distribute lands for free in a system known as Hereditary Captaincies.

These captaincies divided Brazil into strips that were donated to Portuguese noblemen who took on the responsibility for that piece of land and, therefore, had to report on a regular basis back to the king which resulted in Brazil being owned by a handful of men. Today, there are still parts of Brazil owned by some of these families.

The system however proved to be extremely inefficient. The lots successfully occupied were São Vicente (in the state of Sao Paulo) and Pernambuco (Northeast). With Portugal´s shift in interest, Brazil became their new exploitation colony. It all began with the extraction of the so-called “Pau-Brasil” or “Brazilian-wood”. Brazil was extremely underdeveloped, and swamped by thousands of local tribes of Indians the only thing the Portuguese were able to work on at first was on the exploitation of this wood. Pau Brasil contained a rare form of ink in its trunk. Using Indian labor to extract the ink, the Portuguese sold it at an overpriced rate all around Europe resulting in huge profits. Sadly the result of this overexploitation of the “Pau Brasil” was nearly the extinction of this tree.

In the meantime, and happening almost simultaneously, the foreign industry of sugarcane started to boost in Brazil, and this later became the cornerstone of the Brazilian economy.

Introduced to Brazil by the Portuguese, the first-sugar mill opened in 1532. At the time, (and still today) sugarcane was high in demand. This perennial grass quickly became famous and in a blink of an eye shifted Europe´s sweet tooth from honey to sugar. Known as “white gold,” sugar swiftly took over the trade market. For the sugar manufacturers and Portuguese empire alike, enormous benefits had as indeed sugar was the new gold, and it was heavily taxed a luxury product.

Indians and the African Slaves

African slavery in Brazil came with the sugar industry. Indians slaves were “too lazy” to get the job done (the Indians had a tendency to flee the job and return to the forests which they knew well), and because they were not resistant to the white man´s diseases, the Portuguese saw no other way but to start importing African slaves to work the plantations. The slaves had no idea whatsoever of what they were coming to.

On top of that they didn´t know the forest as the Indians did which was to the Portuguese´s benefit. This is, of course, is a simplified summary of how slavery first occurred in Brazil.

Slavery in Brazil was the driving force of the sugar business and by 1650, this business started to decline. After this period, by the beginning of the 18th century, gold and diamond mines started to emerge as the “new promising” business which contributed to more African slaves being brought into the Brazilian territory.

Also by the beginning of the 19th century, the rise of the coffee industry started to boom (and it is still alive and well today) which additionally increased the demand for
African slaves. Consequently Brazil was the last country to abolish slavery (in 1888) and according to official data some four million slaves were imported from Africa to Brazil (although this number could be much higher).

Brazilian Recent Economy

The colonization in Brazil has printed a strong mark in Brazilian history and Brazilian economy. Brazil is still a country that strongly relies on its primary sector to achieve commercial surplus in its commercial trade balance.This isn’t only due the colonization in the country but also due to strong political interests

According to the 2013´s report from the Brazilian export Ministry, Brazil´s main exports income comes from Mineral Ores, Mineral Fuels and Oils, Oil Seeds, and from the Meat and Sugars industries.

Below I have found an illustrative image on Wikipedia that represents brazil main income from it’s export

As you can see Brazil still concentrates the majority of its export in commodities. Of course, there is no space for excuses. A competent government and an educated people makes all the difference.I guess Brazil is on the right track, but there is still a long road to follow.

I’m not so sure what would have happened if the Vikings had colonized Brazil. The Danish Kingdom colonized Greenland. Apparently Greenland has a lot of money, and now there are rumors that they sit well on a huge oil basin, however I cannot tell for sure what would’ve been better. What is your opinon?

Hope you enjoyed this article, to read more please visit www.denmarkbrazil.com

Carlos Monteiro is the founder ofDenmark Brazil.com In less than a year, the blog has become an important tool for Danish Decision Makers looking for Brazil as potential Market.

Denmark Brazil. Because Free Information Unites

Image from Wikipedia

History plays an important role in what we are today. What happened yesterday will surely have a huge impact on our life today. A society´s mindset is shaped by years and years of history, and that is no different for Brazilian people and how they think and act.

Brazil, was an exploitation colony of Portugal for a good part of our history. Since the Portuguese colonizers were more “soft” than the Spaniards, who colonized the rest of South America and because the Portuguese adopted a different strategy to colonize the Indians, Brazilians developed very different traits when compared to our fellow South American neighbors.

The Arrival of the Portuguese settlers and it’s consequences…

When the first Portuguese settlers arrived in Brazil, they discovered that Brazil was occupied by thousands of different native tribes. The Portuguese observed that almost all the Indian tribes were fascinated by trinkets as combs, mirrors and other things which they had never seen the likes of before. Using the Indians´ fascination with these objects to their advantage, the Portuguese were able peacefully to exploit Indian labor. Consequently, this tactic also allowed the Portuguese to exploit resources such as the “Pau Brasil” (Brazilian Wood) as we mentioned in the last post. However, the Portuguese knew that this approach would be short-lived and that they would need to find other methods of keeping the Indians´ attention. Recognizing this fact, they started to integrate themselves into the Indian´s marriage system (which the “whites” did not recognize as marriage).The Portuguese were eager to take advantage of this fact and since they rarely brought women to Brazil it didn´t take long for a new generation of mixed bloods to appear, this became known as a phenomenon called “Cunhadismo.” The Indian woman became “the breeding matrix of Brazilian People” marking a cornerstone in Brazilian history.

The phenomenon “Cunhadismo” started to spread throughout the colony. “Cunhadismo” translated from Portuguese means brother in law. ‘Cunhadismo” was well received by Indian tribes throughout Brazil and these foreign strangers became part of the tribal family. The Indians would offer an Indian woman to a Portuguese man as a wife. Once they accepted they were part of the community and had a strong bond with all other Indians of the tribe. Their mixed blood children started to generate a new breed of Brazilians.

How the mindset of Brazilians began to be shaped ?

This new breed often considered bastards by Portuguese men had to learn how to deal with cultural conflicts from both sides. This generation of “bastards” had a huge responsibility because they were the mediators of any cultural differences. In fact, some historians argue that this is probably the pivoting point for why Brazilian´s are internationally known for their cordiality and hospitality. These colonization tactics were different from the Spanish, so unlike our South American neighbors ( in general), Brazilians are famous for being easy going, informal, in favor of conciliation, tolerant and cordial. People in general will avoid conflicts and confrontations.

Why this historical background is important?

If your coming to do business in Brazil, you will probably notice in your business meetings that business will be one of the last topics Brazilians will talk about. They will ask something related to your trip, to your staying, or a football match that happened in the previous evening, and you should know beforehand that this is used as a warm up.

Differently than Scandinavians, Brazilians are less straight to the point. It doesn’t mean that Brazilian businessmen are not serious or, even worse, that they don’t take you or your topic seriously.

In fact, Brazilian businessmen will be quite serious about the business topics, however if the environment surrounding the conversation can be “lighter” before engaging in a business conversation, Brazilians will appreciate a lot more the meeting, and your chances of success from a cultural perspective, can surely be higher.

Carlos Monteiro is the founder of Denmark Brazil.com In less than a year, the blog has become an important tool for Danish Decision Makers looking to Brazil as potential Market.

Denmark Brazil. Because Free Information Unites