Sao Paulo: the 20th richest city in the world in 2020.
Posted by Nadiva Olivier on October 29, 2007
I live in Sao Paulo and I am very aware of how rich and diverse this city can be. When I go to New York I feel the same. Diversity, a wide mix of different business, a big offer of cultural experiences, a brain stock that challenges all areas of knowledge, an ambitious energy that go for more every day. If you come to Sao Paulo and come back a year later, you will find a different city: new buildings made in a few months, new restaurants, new cozy places, new business trends, new seminars… It is the intelligent life itself happening here. People from every country in the world are coming here for business.
A person that is not familiarized with the city and has not someone to help is really challenged to live and make business here. The city has no urban planning that has guided its growing in the past, so the first obstacle will be the million avenues and streets, and traffic signs. If someone that really knows the city is at your side, this will be easily understood in some days. There are business regions here and things start to become easier if someone make a business map for you in the first place. I will never forget the experience of a Cuban, a fellow in a Seminar in the northeast, which asked me to present him the city with the restriction that he had just three hours between two flights. It was a challenge that makes me discover a great solution: this business map. From that point of view, he understood quite well the whole city and its possibilities despite just visiting two or three places by car.
If you are a business person coming to Brazil for the first time, your destiny should be here. Meetings with people in your business area can be arranged in order you can evaluate your possibilities and possible partners for the first steps. To give you and idea I have to mention similar job for Brazilian businessmen that wanted to be in touch with potential partners in Mercosul. I arranged meetings in Buenos Aires during 15 months, looking for at least four partners for each business. There is a big difference to do that in Buenos Ayres and in Sao Paulo. Let’s imagine that we are talking about furniture business. I can find two wholesalers, two or three retail proprietors and maybe an investor, in Buenos Ayres. In Sao Paulo, you will find a lot of wholesalers, diverse offer of different retail business, many investors and also different and exquisite strategies for you to start in this country.
The secret in Buenos Ayres is to have the right connections with a quite static business pyramid. In Sao Paulo it is important to have the right connections but most of all you have to look for the right approach, to define a strategy and then starting to build proper relationships with anticipation of a few months, before the meeting. That is why just come to an exposition, or a fair, doesn’t make a great difference for business targets. Be in a fair can be a good step but it is not the whole thing definitely.
If you do not have time to prepare these steps and do not have time, you have to delegate it to someone here so you can build a good relationship with possible partners. I can give you an example. The CEO of a lipstick company came to Sao Paulo to evaluate her business possibilities in Brazil. She had a lot of meetings, no time for pleasure (what is a waste of time in a so rich and cultural city like Sao Paulo) and was really stressed when met us in our office. I started offering her a good explanation of the production and commercial chain for the beauty industry in Brasil, and the particular aspects of this business and product in Sao Paulo. She has a very good product and had added value to a very common product. The market as not used to the special and different product she had. She would have to invest in direct mail supported by viral marketing in order to allow people to know and test her product without expending a lot of money. She realized also that the travel should be more profitable if she had come two months before to participate in a beauty exposition that was held in Sao Paulo, and also organizing a business roundtable with five companies that would really appreciate the added value of her product.
Sao Paulo is a dense forest that you have to approach as a clever hunter. A naïve or traditional approach is not appropriated. The projections for the future indicate that Sao Paulo is going to be the 20th richest city in the world in more ten years. It is a treasure you have to discover first. Plan your trip to this city in 2008 in order to enjoy the most interesting opportunities.
P.S. In the last State of World Population 2007 – 30rd UN report on this issue – it is written that “in 2008… for the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas.” Growing and very populous cities like Sao Paulo must be managed carefully in order not to increase social and economic problems. In Sao Paulo, a very interesting social movement was born to deal with this challenge, discovering and discussing ways to make another Sao Paulo (“outra sao paulo”), avoiding existing problems. You can see their propositions at www.nossasaopaulo.org.br.