The International Entrepreneur – Cultural Tips on Venezuela by Carlos H. Brandt

This week I am pleased to present an interview with Carlos H. Brandt. Based in Caracas, Venezuela Carlos is a Mentor to Entrepreneurs. He has both a law degree from UCAB (Venezuela) and an MBA with specialization in Entrepreneurship and Financial Management from Pforzheim University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Carlos has expertise as a venture advisor and mentor and with obtaining start-up venture capital. He has experience with the fashion and design industry, energy and oil, sports marketing, models of social inclusion and sustainable city development, training and citizen leadership, inclusive business models for public investment, and planning and strategy for business models in early development stages.

What do you see as unique cultural characteristics of Venezuelan people that are reflected in Venezuela’s business culture?

Venezuelans can be characterized by their resilience, resourcefulness, tech-savvy nature, mobility, initiative, and solidarity.

In your opinion, what are Venezuela’s most competitive industries in world markets?

Venezuela excels in three areas: Baseball, Beauty, and Classical Music. In the case of industries other than the oil industry: we also compete well with rum, shrimps, cacao, and tourism. Nevertheless, our main treasure is the human capital. This unfortunately has been a resource that has been leaving our country in recent years to the benefit of other countries.  Colombia’s recent oil burst was due Venezuelan oil experts’ migration. These experts were fired from PDVSA by Presidential Order.

What’s the best way to find potential Venezuelan business contacts?

It depends on what kind of business contacts that you are seeking. Official sites are regularly updated and offer all information needed for foreign investments. If you are looking for private connections there are many ways to promote face-to-face introductions. My personal recommendation for all who are evaluating investment opportunities in Venezuela is to contact professional associations like Ven-Am Chamber or your country’s embassy in Venezuela. I recommend validating any business connections through your clients, allies and providers. For entrepreneurs, I highly suggest contacting eneVenezuela.org, which in Spanish is called the Ecosistema Nacional de Emprendimiento.

What do you wish people knew about doing business in Venezuela before they arrive in country?

Doing business in Venezuela requires intelligence and contacts. Prepare diligently before arriving in Venezuela.

From your perspective, what’s the business climate like for entrepreneurs (supportive vs. unsupported, culturally accepted profession vs. not accepted, etc.)?

In entrepreneurship, Venezuela is a paradox. Venezuela is amongst the top 10 countries in Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) according to GEM in the last 5 bi-annual reports.  Nevertheless is the one and only in Latin America without explicit policies supporting and fostering entrepreneurs. According to the SBA Entrepreneurship Report from last year in which introduced GEDI Index for public policies planning, Entrepreneurship in Venezuela is last in cultural support. So, there are good grounds for business in terms of opportunities, but you won’t find a lot of people eager to help you grow.

To read more about entrepreneurship from Carlos, please visit his blog:  http://consultoriaemprendimiento.blogspot.com/

If you would like to contact Carlos, he can be reached at: Tel: +58 412-2282437/+58 414-2216570, skype: carlos.brandt and twitter.com/chbrandt.