Brazilian men and women are “thinking big” and changing the country through entrepreneurship, even under a delicate and uncertain scenario.

By Fernanda Ellen (Co-founder, World Tech Makers)

Brazil is going through a moment which could be historical for the world economy. There has never been so much entrepreneurship in the history of the country.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), Brazil is ranked in the fourth position in number of entrepreneurs in a survey done with 68 countries which represent 75 percent of the world population and 89 percent of the global GDP. At the top of the list are China, India, and Nigeria, respectively.

Brazilians are reversing the stereotype that they “think small” and are working hard toward starting their own businesses based on great opportunities and market demands. Among the main reasons leading Brazilians to “think big” are profit, personal gratification, financial security and, above all, independence.

But are Brazilians on the right path?

A Long Way to Excellence

Unfortunately, the lack of preparation when it comes to facing difficulties is also in evidence. According to Endeavor Brasil, a measly 38 percent of university students who plan to become entrepreneurs dedicate any time to prepare for the job, while less than 25 percent of them save money to start their own business.

This situation, combined with the bureaucracy, high taxes and lack of physical infrastructure, leads to a scenario of insecurity among new entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, Brazilian entrepreneurship is still more positive than negative. Two very important factors can be seen among the entrepreneurs: a rise in female participation and the incorporation of technology in business.

Female Leadership

While women lead only 35 percent of the six million micro- and small businesses in Brazil, they represent 52 percent of the leadership in new businesses. Generally very persistent and motivated, Brazilian women are starting enterprises after finding good market opportunities.

Today, Brazil counts on seven million businesswomen, marking an increase of 21 percent over the last ten years (data: Sebrae/GEM). It is already possible to see a tendency called “maternal entrepreneurship:” the opening of businesses related to domestic chores or to the care of children.

To improve the quality and competitiveness of these businesses, some projects are encouraging innovative ideas and supporting female professionals. One such example is 10.000 Mulheres (‘10,000 Women’), a program sponsored by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which offers education in administration and business management. It provides knowledge and tools that all entrepreneurs need to succeed in today’s competitive global market, through collaborative learning, networking events and open forums.

In addition, there is Rede Mulher Empreendedora, a network of entrepreneurs that is updated daily with information, content, tips and news about this universe. The main goal of this platform is to unite and support women entrepreneurs across the country in developing its businesses.

Technological Innovation

The second great novelty is that Brazilian entrepreneurs are increasingly more digital, thus becoming better prepared to meet the market demand of 105 million people.

According to IBGE, online businesses in the country grow at a rate of 28 percent and move 28.8 billion Brazilian reais (around $13.8 billion) every year.

Here are some other interesting numbers about technology startup founders:

  • 67% are between 25 and 40 years old
  • 64% live in the Brazilian Southeast (43% in the city of São Paulo)
  • 82% have completed Higher Education (only 19% in the Technology field)
  • 31% have completed MBAs
  • 83% of technology startups are being founded by men
    (Data: eBricks/Consumoteca)

Looking at this last statistic, it’s clear that, despite the rising trend in female leadership within business in general, female founders are still in the minority when it comes to technology startups.

It is important to speak about entrepreneurship in Brazil both from the economic and the sociological standpoints. Brazilians now are more active entrepreneurs than they were a decade ago; but there is still great need for implementation of governmental policies which would provide better conditions to solidify this scenario, particularly regarding investment in education and the simplification of bureaucracy.

Only then will Brazil count on better, more competent entrepreneurs who will lead Brazil to the long-awaited position of fifth-world economy, a position currently occupied by France.

What more can be done to support female founders in Latin America?