Sunday, 28 March 2010

Getting back to work

Roberto Carlos has just scored a third for Corinthians in the 'classico' against Sao Paulo so I think I can afford to pull my eyes from the TV. Each goal has been accompanied by firecrackers being released somewhere in our neighbourhood which adds something to atmosphere in our small apartment.

Anyhow, the purpose of my first post here is to talk about my first business trip. I am working with a small agribusiness company that raise money to make loans to various producers, could be anything but the majority seem to be forestry, sugar & ethanol producers. This week I went on a trip with the founder and another guy from our team to the interior of Santa Catarina state to look at some facilities. The travel went fine which was a plus, caught a early flight to Cacador, changing in Curitiba.

My summary from what I saw would be that lunch is very important. We went to churascaria's both days, I am going to clearly have to look my self-control as I found the afternoons quite a slog. After eating a load of incredibly tasty steak all you want to do is sleep, but I guess that is where the coffee comes in. Over the two days we visited 6 or so projects, covering quite a lot of territory and ending up back in Curitiba. The special treat was a visit to a winery for an evening and it was work related as the proprietor also had a forestry plantation. The evening at the winery was great fun, very sociable with various other friends/associates of the owner dropping in.

Some takeaways from the trip:

1) Despite the much publicised and clearly visible boom happening here, running a midsized private company is difficult because financing is patchy. Loan facilities have been pulled at short notice (banks reducing exposure) and many very good companies are being denied the funds they need to develop.

2) This will probably not a surprise but road rules here are definately open to interpretation. We spent a fair amount of time crossing double solid lines (as in do not cross) to overtake, even around corners. Best not to dwell too much on this when you are in the car.

3) All business owners who have been around for the past 20 odd years are to be respected because they have steered their companies through some unbelievable times, its easy to overlook this and just consider the present.

4) The obvious stuff - the scale of this place is enormous, and the people really love football. I have had two more sets of firecrackers since starting this piece and its now 3-3 in the classico, going to have to give the blogging a rest and watch the rest of it.

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