Is Brazil the next ‘startup nation’?

Startup Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle is a must read for entrepreneurs and policy markers alike. This incredible book details how the country’s 5 000 startups have driven the once emerging market to a leading position in a number of fields.

In the emerging markets context, though, Brazil is rising as a growing market where startups and SMEs are making their mark. As one of the top ten countries globally for entrepreneurship, Brazil is growing its share of startups in the technology space.

According to data gathered by Endeavor Brazil, groups working to promote high-growth entrepreneurship, young enterprises play a critical role in Brazil’s economic future in BRICS. At present, small and medium size-enterprises (SMEs) are responsible for 96 percent of the jobs in Brazil and comprise 98 percent of all companies in the country.

Peixe Urbano, Boo-box, Compra3, Apontador, Predicta, Migux, and SambaTech are just some of the more well known names in what seems to be a tide of new startups opening daily.

When it comes to BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Brazil is flying in the view of a number of leaders in the industry, including South Africa’s Kim Reid who spoke to memeburn recently. “There are many fantastic entrepreneurs in Brazil. They definitely appreciate opportunity.” Reid’s bullishness on Brazil as a hotbed of opportunity echoes some of the rising interest in the country’s success.

“The essence of innovation of entrepreneurship comes from hardship: the actual desire to improve oneself. And I think whenever you find any nation going through that you find good entrepreneurs and people focused on trying to better themselves,” as Reid puts it, citing such an attitude as an approach as positive for entrepreneurship, investment opportunities and economies as a whole.

The challenge for Brazil, as in other emerging markets, remains the ability of larger corporate multi-nationals to lure entrepreneurial talent into larger organisations. According to the majority of Brazilians who work for Microsoft in Redmond come from the city of Recife, in Northeast Brazil, home to the Recife Center for Advanced Studies and Systems and Porto Digital, a startup incubator.

Brazil’s internet culture is strong. As the BBC points out, not all have access to the web but those who do “spend an average of 70 hours a month online, which is more than anywhere else in the world”.

The BBC’s technology correspondent Mark Gregory says it is the “country’s online revolution that has created opportunities to establish small businesses that simply didn’t exist before”.

Gregory adds millions of Brazilians now do their banking online, buy entertainment tickets, and “most importantly perhaps”, interact with their government via the internet. “Administrative tasks that used to take hours of queuing and hassle at government offices can now be done in minutes online.”

The effect of the internet and the resultant startup culture indicates important spinoffs for entrepreneurship, economic growth, employment and even democracy. It also demonstrates the capacity of emerging markets to take advantage of the opportunities that are relatively significant when compared to web users in more established countries.

Internet connectivity clearly needs to remain a key objective of emerging market policy makers. Entrepreneurs alone cannot launch the next big thing without the basic infrastructure.

Diane Coyle, author of The Weightless Economy, says the net helps people create more wealth in smaller ways that all add up to a significant contribution to the bigger picture. She points out the net makes it quicker to find things (reducing the transaction costs of business) and makes it easier to speed up buying and selling.

Image: abdallahh



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