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Dec 20, 2018

Sao Paulo Reflection - Kevin Li

Being able to visit São Paulo and experience first hand the lively culture and growing entrepreneurship scene was a great privilege. The opportunity taught me the importance of support and helping others in the entrepreneurship world to be able to succeed.


São Paulo, one of the world’s largest metropolitan cities, has a vibrance to it unlike any city in New Zealand. Walking through the neighbourhoods and in the city, the vast display of graffiti in São Paulo adds character and flair. Nearly every inch of every wall is covered in bright colours or messy scrawls. Graffiti and street art is the way that Paulistas express themselves. Rather than hire billboards for adverts, companies will hire artists to paint large murals on the side of buildings instead. 

The artistic vibe is also evident in the parties happening on nearly street and avenue. These range from a handful of people having a drink and listening to music together outside a storefront, to dozens of people gathered together on Paulista Avenue, dancing and singing together. Many Paulistas also express themselves through their flamboyant fashion, as colourful tattoos and dyed hair is very common. The vibrance and culture of the São Paulo is made up from the diversity of the city; São Paulo is home to the largest population of Italians and Japanese outside Italy and Japan respectively, as well having inhabitants from over 200 different countries. 

São Paulo also has a mix of both modern and historic buildings. In the city centre, contemporary buildings sit alongside historical churches, showing both the past of São Paulo and its growth in its recent history. São Paulo is also the financial capital of Brazil, and so there are skyscrapers that line Paulista Avenue. 

The people of São Paulo are incredibly warm and laid-back, and also willing to share their culture and city with others. Paulistas are also very accepting people, and enjoy their lives without regard to what other people may think of them. In culture centres and around Paulista Avenue, there are many people who will blast music and dance together to enjoy their days off, without a care in the world. On the other hand, New Zealanders tend to be a bit more self-conscious of what others think about them and are less willing to express themselves. 

While Brazil may seem to be an incredibly different country to New Zealand, there are some similarities in the way that the two countries do business. Both countries have many enterprises which focus on social responsibility, with many New Zealand companies invested in meeting the quadruple bottom line of cultural, social, economic and environmental goals. In Brazil, there is a push for socially responsible businesses with organisations such as System B operating here in the country. System B encourages businesses in Latin America to focus on social responsibility by redefining the meaning of success for a business, where success is measured by the well-being of people, society and nature. 

Both New Zealand and Brazil have a positive start-up culture, but there are differences in setting up a start-up business. New Zealand ranks first in the world in ease of doing business, but Brazil ranks 106th. However, Brazil is improving, with the help of organisations such as Co-Viva and Sebrae supporting micro and small enterprises, as well as fostering the entrepreneurship culture in Brazil. 

Despite the challenges of doing business in Brazil, the entrepreneurship culture is growing. Along with the friendly culture and diversity of the country, doing business in Brazil will only improve in the future.  I was also able to see how, despite having different cultures, we can connect with others on shared interests and values.