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Matilde Amarchand, managing director of Rama Business Group, likes to joke that there's always a need for companies that can help Brazil build the "really non-appealing stuff," like infrastructure projects for roads and sewers.
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After coming to the U.S., Amarchand worked as an economic development officer who attracted revenue-generating business for the city of Tampa, Fla. Then in 1996 she started her own international business, Rama Business Group, which has offices in Tampa, Fla., and Rio de Janeiro, and focuses on international trade and economic development consulting that provides logistics and business solutions. Later she added Rama Merchants, which imports and exports fine wines and olive oils to the U.S., Brazil and Kazakhstan. In 2010 Rama Business Solutions was created, focusing on infrastructure projects and sustainable economic development in Brazil and Kazakhstan.
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With Brazil's government undertaking a giant infrastructure development push to prepare for hosting the World Cup in 2014 and then the Olympics in 2016, Amarchand has leveraged her economic development background and grown her procurement and representation business. Her 12-employee company now does energy, technology, agriculture and construction business in Brazil.
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Here's her take on doing business in a BRIC country (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
Amarchand: I was always interested in infrastructure projects - pipes, bulk materials, the really non-appealing stuff. I was doing that throughout the whole world. Then, I got a little bored, and in 2008 we decided to get into importing wines under the name Rama Merchants USA-Brazil because I love wines. But then the U.S. economy tanked, and there was really not a great market for wines anymore.
Currently, we represent a few brands - about 10 wineries only, from Italy, France and Portugal.
Amarchand: At that point, I started traveling to Brazil with the intention of setting up a second office there for my wines. Then Brazil began awakening and became a major power. The government started to stimulate the economy and decided to invest in infrastructure. Brazil is behind 30 years on a lot of infrastructure, like roads and airports. The federal government is investing heavily into everything related to infrastructure, spurring the economy and creating sustainable economic growth while investing in its people. Brazil is now a more competitive country. Now, everyone wants to invest in Brazil.
Amarchand: More people began asking for requests for huge things like bridges and shipyards. At first I was saying "No, I don't do that anymore." Then I said, "Yeah I do that," and I went right back into it, but this time with a specific focus on infrastructure projects in Brazil.
Those requests came … mainly from firms in the private sector, looking for American knowhow, equipment and capital to invest in the country and in its infrastructure projects. We at Rama Business Solutions concentrate our procurement efforts in three very distinct areas: capital markets, knowhow and heavy equipment.
Amarchand: Absolutely. If I had a board of directors, people would say, "Brazil is on the other side of the world!" Being a small and lean company had a lot do with that.
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