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Brazil Program Readies Small Businesses to Sell Overseas

Brazilian micro and small industries are already harvesting the fruit of a program whose objective it is to insert them in the foreign market.

Around 900 companies have already benefited from the Extramural Industrial Export Program (Peiex), developed by Brazil’s Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade in partnership with the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) and the Brazilian Export Promotion Agency (Apex).

The basis for the project, which started being implemented in February this year, is to provide training to technicians that operate as company consultants, identifying bottlenecks and presenting solutions.

Fênix Couros, which produces shoe components and two thousand pairs of masculine sandals a month, is one of the companies that is benefiting from this program. At the company, which has 10 employees and is in the city of Franca, the need for an improvement in the finished product quality was identified.

"Our target is the foreign market. For this reason we must organize ourselves and always improve," stated company owner José Roberto Freitas.

According to Freitas, visits by one of the technicians of the Franca Nucleus began around three months ago. "It was very interesting, especially due to the dialogue and exchange of ideas.

When the problem was identified, the solution was found in conjunction. It also worked as a chance for the observation of new horizons," he guaranteed.

According to the manager of the Innovation and Technology Access Unit at the National Sebrae, Paulo Alvim, the project aligns diagnostics and guidance services to small businesses and Local Productive Arrangements (LPA’s).

"The target is to increase the competitiveness of micro and small companies and to spread the export culture," stated Alvim.

The companies that are benefiting now are garment manufacturers from Brazilian capital Brasí­lia and Goiás, both in the Midwest, Bahia, in the Northeast, and Rio Grande do Sul, in the South, leather and shoe manufacturers from São Paulo, in the Southeast, furniture companies from Pará, in the North, plastics and information technology companies from Bahia and auto parts manufacturers from Rio Grande do Sul.

The general coordinator of the Department of Micro and Small Companies at the Ministry of Development, Tiago Terra, stated that the Peiex is inserted in the ministry’s industrial, technology and foreign trade policy, launched by the federal government in 2004, with the objective of increasing exports and, with this, strengthening the image of Brazilian products on the foreign market.

"Peiex was born from the need of providing the LPA’s with a tool that would elevate each company to a level of competitive standards, through modernization and business training and innovations that would permit a better performance on the foreign and international markets," explained Terra.

Each operational nucleus is composed of seven technicians and can service up to 252 companies. The Franca LPA, for example, was one of the first to benefit from the project.

According to Cleber de Barros, the coordinator of the Operational Nucleus in Franca, the project has already provided services to 200 companies.

"As the project has a duration of 12 months, the target is to service 252 companies up to February 2006," stated Barros.

In practice, according to Barros, the program works in the following manner: first of all the professionals, called "extensionists", are trained to work as consultants to the businessmen.

They then visit the companies so as to analyze areas like organizational administration, human resources, finances and costs, sales and marketing, foreign trade and product manufacturing.

"After the visit to the companies, two or three topics are chosen for solution. The tendency is to guide the businessman to a support institution, like the Institute for Technological Research (IPT), to proceed with the work begun by the ‘extensionists’," explained Barros. According to him, the main difficulties are connected to strategic planning and quality.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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