Thursday, November 21, 2013

BIN@BRAZIL – new global experience

New country. New excitement. New surprises. A new adjustment to the global image of possibility. Brazil offers all of these exciting dynamics, and I embraced its vibration with gratitude and inquisitiveness. I took along to the conference  many of our own experiences, views and examples of best practices; Slovenian stories, built on sustainable growth, social responsibility and innovation. Stories of the Challenge:Future projects, The InCo movement and the somewhat unique BTC business system at their invitation. Although Slovenia did not featured in any of their global economy analyses, our discussions successfully overcame the issues of size, distance and unfamiliarity. We focused on the true challenges of innovation, economic development, technological opportunities, obstacles and responsibility. The engagement of the masses and  general overall economic growth is of key interest of many countries (Chile, Portugal, Brazil, Slovenia, Sweden, Peru, Great Britain, etc.). We were engaged in visions of a New World, new global shifts and internationalisation. I am thankful for having had this opportunity. I feel this was not my last visit to Brazil.  The following is my experience of their business world. Obrigada, Brazil!

Photo: Violeta Bulc at BIN@BRAZIL 2013
Source: Vibacom archive

Key realisations:
1. I experienced a vast diversity of people at all levels and in all situations of daily life. I wasn't even  able to clearly see what the prevailing archetypal Brazilian would be!. Even now, I cannot say I that would be able to identify a person from Brazil in a crowd of people. This is especially true when it comes to urban residents.  Their fast growing cities seem like independent and autonomous entities in the vast natural expanses. And yet, they are a tremendously kind and hospitable people. One can tell that their unemployment rate is below 5% by their manner. However, there is also an opposite issue to low unemployment – people change jobs very quickly, often failing to deepen their knowledge and put it to the test.

Street photo Ribeirão Preto
Source Vibacom archive
2. Vastness of the countryside. Hundreds of kilometres of fields (endless plantations of sugar cane, orange trees, cocoa trees, coffee plants, etc.) and forests. Straight roads occasionally passed a farm or a petrol station with a restaurant attached, carving through countless shades of green. I got the impression of a land with a completely different spiritual dimension , and I could not dismiss the sense, that this invisible strength of Brazil has yet to be incorporated in their business philosophy. Their business language is very concrete, logical and technical.

Photo: Country road from Ribeirão Preto to São Carlos
Source: Vibacom archive

3. Extreme focus on economic growth. Their main objective is to penetrate global markets and secure a foothold in the strongest global economies. Having a leading position is a strong motivation, particularly in the São Paulo (location of our conference) state, the economic flagship of the Federative Republic of Brazil. On the other hand, their internal economic policy generally allows entry into the Brazilian market only through production-based joint ventures. This type of self-sufficiency, which is not unique to Brazil, encourages the development of business models that are contrary to the idea of open and inclusive systems of the ‘flourishing planet’. I hope Brazil will find its own development course and encourage new business models capitalising on their exceptional immigrant tradition and diversity, and integrating a strong influx of new ideas from around the globe.

Photo: Group photo at the at the end of the conference
Source: Vibacom archive

4. Shortage of professionals. Brazil is short of 40,000 engineers in a diversity of areas. Knowledge of a second language is rare, even in hotels with a constant flow of foreign guests, English is spoken and understood by very few employees. They view this as their challenge to internationalisation. Even experiences of Portuguese companies, which have a very strong presence in Brazil, indicate that there are many obstacles to developing stable and sustainable business cooperation: a complicated bureaucracy, inadequate professional knowledge, high employee fluctuation, etc.  However, their ever-present good will and kindness help to soften these types of challenges.
5. Innovation is a priority in all strategic guidelines, in the development of the economy, also local and state administration. There is a strong focus on technological innovation, particularly in the areas of oil and natural gas (1% investment in R&R is mandatory by law), medicine, dentistry, pharmacy (particularly in Ribeirão Preto), agriculture and advanced technologies. Large investments are allocated to the development of innovative thinking and entrepreneurship. During a visit to the development centre working under the wing of the University of São Paulo in São Carlos, I was astonished to learn that the city supports the centre with 5% of its GDP. In exchange, the centre launched a project that will facilitate the establishing of 1011 new companies and technological transfers to existing companies by 2022. The government and local authorities also strongly invest in development through support services. These are similar to our own (incubators, entrepreneurial centres, development agencies, accelerators, etc.). However, the difference to our situation is in the constant influx of funds and intensive internationalisation. Brazil is truly a growing economy.

Photo: São Carlos campus
Source: Vibacom archive
6. No deliberate verbalisation of sustainable development, social responsibility or responsible innovation. In the presentations from the local environment, I noticed a lack of eco-consciousness and the inclusion, and consultation with their clients in strategies to deal with proposed solutions to probelms(B2B or B2C). This confused me and it took me a while to incorporate this information in my view of the world. This was particularly difficult due to my experience in Vietnam where the levels of systemic thinking, sustainable development and eco-consciousness were clearly communicated to the public at every opportunity.  On the other hand, following my presentation, which involved innovation, sustainable development and social responsibility, I was approached by a number of young people who have already answered the call of eco-civilisation and responsible development. There are many paths to building a flourishing planet. Many different paths. And it is very important that they exist.

Photo: Final greeting from nature at the closure of the conference
Source: Vibacom archive
I hope I have managed to transfer at least some of the vibration I experienced, and partially, initiated; and I also hope that I have managed to build a bridge between different experiences and frames of mind with respect to innovation of the two worlds: Slovenia and Brazil.

I hope our ties will grow stronger in the future.

Obrigada, BIN@BRAZIL! Osti Jarej, Slovenia

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