The Camara de Comercio Franca-Brasil (CCFB) is the French chamber of commerce in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The CCFB is devoted to developing and improving the economic, trade, cultural, social and industrial ties between France and Brazil. The members of CCFB can benefit from a robust network of 900 fellow members. Being the students of a French business school, it was essential for us to understand in detail about this alliance between France and Brazil.
Ms Lorraine Leal, the person in charge of the presentation was descriptive about the working styles and cultural structure of Brazil – something that we were all curious to know. From her, we learnt that Brazil is a great market for companies with a promising number of faithful customers. This is one of the reasons why despite the problems of bureaucracy, theft and violence, it still remains attractive as a market. We were startled to learn that in certain industries like cosmetics; products are 3 time more expensive than France with willing buyers, a signal to show how loyal consumers are to a brand. E-Commerce is big in Brazil because of the rising number of cell phones Because of the melting pot of cultures in Brazil; there is demand for every kind of product in the market. Another interesting fact we discovered was that Brazil offers consumers a very flexible and easy payment system. Up to 36 payments in installments can be made for purchasing a product. Because of this, goods are more affordable for the middle class and people living in the Favelas.
A paraphrase of some of her words: Brazilian culture is different. It is embedded in work and company culture. For example, making small talk and arriving late. It is completely normal to enquire about a colleague’s family before starting a meeting or signing a deal in a Churrascaria.
Brazilians pay more because everything is expensive. They love to brag about paying high prices but paradoxically, they are keen about getting discounts too, even if they don’t see the price benefit of it.
When Ms Lorraine was asked a question about how different Brazilian culture was from French culture, she was quick to point out that Brazilians never say NO; which is different from French culture as the latter is more direct in terms of communication. Understanding this was necessary in order to celebrate our differences.
The visit to CCFB helped us understand the contrast between the cultures and business styles of France and Brazil.
Our next stop was ESPM – Escola Superior do Propaganda e Marketing, a college that had programs for students who wanted to study journalism, advertising, marketing and communication.
After a brief lunch, we were introduced to a classroom in the college and were informed about the history of the college, the education sector, an overview of Brazil and even a 40 minute course on International Communication Management. We were happy to get a real feel of being in a Brazilian college and being taught by Brazilian professors. One of the presenters, Mr Cesar Ferragi, said something that reflected the diversity of Brazil. He looked at all of us and remarked, “All you guys could pass off as Brazilians without even trying!” His point illustrated the complex mix of cultures in the country since centuries.
Interacting with students from the college was an eye-opener in the education sector of Brazil. We observed the college’s excellent infrastructure; it had a make-believe department store to teach students about retailing, a sound-recording room, a photography room and much more. There are 6 million students in Brazil but only 8% of the students attain schools, which are run by the Brazilian government, and more than 19% of students enroll themselves in private schools. This huge difference is mainly because the there is a vast difference in the quality of education provided by the state-run and privately-run educational institutes. The state-run quality schools have poor amenities, they lack quality teaching and non-teaching staff, and the curriculum taught in the government-run school is very basic and outdated.
The day was packed with activity and at the end we very quite satisfied after a day’s busy schedule that we had learnt a lot about the business, educational and youth culture of Brazil.
The Biz Dev Blog Team