My First Day

I intend to keep these posts short, although I hope to document information that is useful for my research. While it is tempting – very tempting – to document the whirl of impressions and thoughts rushing through my mind, I might do that elsewhere in order to keep this blog succinct (and, therefore, readable).

I am renting a room from two journalists living a 10min walk away from Avenida Paulista: this is a glamorous downtown street with malls and restaurants.

One week ago, the mayor introduced a policy that reserves one lane along these heavily congested roads exclusively for cyclists (on Sundays and public holidays). The cyclists were out in full force – men, women, children, teens, delivery guys, skateboarders – with staff holding flags at every stoplight to ensure the cyclists could stop and go safely. It was a sight to behold – some cyclists were aggressively exercising (many were shirtless), others seemed to be leisurely going to places with their friends, or as a family, or individuals; the lane was active, almost as though a marathon was happening, and it signaled to me the powerful role that a government can assert in shaping a city and its people.

Back to the journalists: One of them is writing a report on micro and small enterprises for a magazine called Veja, while his friend used to write for a magazine that focused on Small and Medium Enterprises; she switched to freelancing but still writes primarily about businesses. I should get hold of these magazines to get up to speed with the local discourse on this topic.

During our long and windy conversation, several points of worth surfaced:

They told me that Lula introduced a new law called SIMPLES. I had read about this. It was designed to make it easier for Brazilians to start small enterprises by simplifying the tax code and registration process. That said, taxes are notorious in this country: federal and state laws differ, and there are numerous categories of codes that are hard to navigate. As the Financial Times described it: “Brazil’s tax system these days increasingly resembles the country’s popular soap operas or ‘telenovelas’- convoluted, farcical and incredibly hard to follow.” (FT Blog)

SEBRAE is the primary agency for micro and small enterprises that is funded by the government but operates ‘autonomously’ as a non-profit organization; it provides consultative support to businesses.

Apparently, there are two concurrent definitions for microenterprises in this city. SIMPLES defines it by sales turnover: no more than $3 million. SEBRAE also has a definition. I ought to clarify these concepts in order to correctly sample businesses for the interviews.

There is an economics research institution here that has an entrepreneurship center where students are actively involved in issues pertaining to business start-ups. I ought to contact them, especially in regard to any quantitative data that they might have, and perhaps collaborate on creating a survey.

It is invaluable to draw upon people’s existing knowledge and experiences.

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