This morning I took the opportunity to take the time and enjoy the breakfast provided by the hotel. Unlike Texas, pancakes, waffles, and honey butter chicken biscuits is not the standard breakfast. In Brazil, breakfast has consisted of primarily fresh fruits, assorted breads, eggs, and bacon. Not too bad of a meal at all, but the highlight of breakfast in Rio is the coffee. Brazilian coffee, similar to espresso in the states, is some of the best coffee I have ever had. Considering that Brazil produces 1/3 of all of the world’s coffee it is safe to say it is a well-earned title.
Today was our first day to visit companies with our Brazilian students. This increased the number of students from 14 to almost 40. This means a bigger bus with more seats.
Our first stop was at BRICS Policy Center on Rua Dona Mariana street in the Botafogo neighborhood. BRICS is a group of 5 countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. They work collaboratively to mutually benefit each other on several different issues. The BRICS Policy Center is a research center, funded by the state, that makes proposals on Policy to the members of BRICS. The majority of the people that work there attend or work for the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. The groups of graduate students, professors, or other scholars do research on a variety of economic and social issues facing the five countries.
After the BRICS Policy center we headed to the Botafogo Praia Shopping center for lunch. As we were leaving the center there was a street performer with his violin. Josh with the little bit of Spanish he knows was able to ask the performer if he could play. He was very generous and let Josh borrow it. Josh played Minuet in G Major by Johann Sebastian Bach. Which can be seen here http://youtu.be/KBfQUX0kNyg
Following lunch and a show, we headed downtown to visit BNDES, a state owned development bank. BNDES is a key instrument of the federal government, and it is the main provider of long-term financing in Brazil.
Unlike the USA banking system, the BNDES is funded by taxes collected from the citizens of Brazil. The qualifications to receive a loan are you must first be a Brazilian Company with all the legal paperwork. Then you must be seeking investment in something that will develop the Brazil’s economy and can’t already be being manufactured in Brazil. BNDES accounts for the majority of all financing going on in the country. BNDES also provides what they call Social Inclusion Disbursements for Sanitation, Healthcare, Urban Development, and Education. If a project falls under one of these categories a company doesn’t have to repay BNDES anything. However, there are strict deadlines and if the company doesn’t achieve the deadlines they will be forced by the government to pay double the original loan.
As a whole the day was a very great learning experience. It was a great insight into what that the Brazilians think about the way their own government is doing things. As well as a great chance to here several different political opinions about social and economical issues facing Brazil at this time.