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São Paulo is a dizzying mega-metropolis - as the largest city in all of South America, Sampa, as it is commonly called, can make you feel very little... But if you give it a try you'll find unconventional beauty, endless entertainment options and unparalleled business opportunities. São Paulo is home to incredible nightclubs and bars, acclaimed restaurants, 90+ wonderful museums, 22 million sqft of green spaces, unique buildings and a pretty stuffed calendar of events. It surely is a city for both business and pleasure: from the São Paulo Fashion Week (the biggest fashion event in Latin America), or the São Paulo Art Biennial to its prominent trade shows (like AutoShow, Fispal and Hair Brazil), this land is packed with people and action!
São Paulo is THE economic hub of Latin America, an international leader in industry from heavy to high tech, in finances, commerce and, most importantly, in global trade.
More recently, São Paulo has become the Brazilian capital of cultural events and International fairs, attracting a wide range of visitors from all over the globe. It is, therefore, pretty natural that in 2014 the city received the title of the most influential worldwide metropolis of Latin America.
With 42 million inhabitants, it is the largest employer and the largest consumer market in Brazil. The economy of São Paulo is also the most diversified in Brazil, home to companies that operate in a wide range of activities, from the most traditional to the most sophisticated.
São Paulo is also a great place to start a business. The city has plenty of resources for young businesses and entrepreneurs, from startup accelerators like Acceleratech, Startup Farm, and Startup Weekend, to great co-working spaces like Distrito and Plug N' Work.
Ensuring a successful outcome in Brazilian negotiations requires an understanding of and respect for the differences between your culture and Brazil’s. These small tips will help you make a good impression:
- Brazilians tend to be very friendly and enjoy chatting very close to their friends or newly-met persons. Kissing on the cheek is the customary greeting between women and between a man and a woman, even if they have just met. Men greet by shaking their hands.
- Brazilians don't tend to be punctual and when meeting friends, it's considered normal to be up to 15 minutes late. However, it is important to arrive on time for meetings.
- Important meetings should not only be scheduled at least two weeks in advance but also confirmed two days prior, as a matter of courtesy. Dropping in without an appointment is considered quite inappropriate.
- Have business cards printed that display your company’s information in both English and Portuguese. Distribute these to everyone, making sure the Portuguese side is facing up.
- Purple and black are the colors of mourning in Brazil, so avoid these colors if you plan to presenting a gift or order promotional material.
- Expect to be interrupted while you are speaking or making a presentation. Interruptions are common in Brazilian conversations and shouldn’t be regarded as rude.
- Brazilians always prefer face-to-face meetings to written communication .
- If you organize a business lunch or something similar, always tip. Tipping in Brazil is typically not expected nor given, but if you can afford to be generous, service people will be grateful. And of course, it will cause a good impression to your guests.
São Paulo hosts many fairs and congresses throughout the year. If you’re planning on attending these events, these are some basic rules you should know about the venues:
- The main venues use 110 volts and 220 volts.
- Exhibitors are not required to use union workers.
- Smoking is illegal, but alcohol is frequently served.
- Exhibitors who play music in their stand usually have to pay royalties.
- Suits are the most common attire, but casual dress is also being popularized.
- It is advisable to hire a translator if your Portuguese is not fluent.
- If you ever need help while in a trade fair, always search for a properly identified employee. At the Anhembi Exhibition Park there is a Police Station Operating Base Tourist Service, which specializes in helping visitors.
Like many large cities in Brazil, São Paulo has high crime levels. However, traveling with your eyes and ears wide open, while sticking to a few guidelines, can help you minimizing the risk of becoming a crime victim. We’ve collected some tips that may be quite useful:
- Do not neglect your belongings at any time. Beware of men and women who approach you to ask questions. Quite often, they want to distract you in order to steal your belongings.
- Do not handle large amounts of money in public. When taking cash out of your wallet, try to do it discreetly, specially if you’re on the street.
- Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and watches.
- It is preferable to use registered means of transport. And, if you decide to take a taxi, keep in mind that many drivers don’t speak English or take credit cards. Calculate the money you’re going to need and have your address written on a piece of paper.
- Always pay attention to your surroundings. Being attentive and observant are two of the key characteristics when it comes to safety while traveling.
- If you lose your documents, look for a Deatur (Tourist Police) or the nearest police station. Make a police report and report all lost or stolen objects.