Brazilians and Norwegians have always been good commercial partners, since the time when coffee was exchanged for codfish. These two people have extensive differences when it comes to culture, climate and language, yet cooperation has been present in several sectors, such as Oil & Gas and Maritime.
Back in 2006, there were around 60 Norwegian companies in Brazil, and today the number has doubled, not putting into account those businesses operated by agents (approx. 50 companies), and most of them are concentrated in the Oil & Gas and Maritime sector.
For these companies, it could be very risky, not to say naïve, to step in Brazil without any kind of advice or support. The local market is very complex, and small Norwegian businesses would not be competitive enough to survive on their own throughout the first years, which are considered to be the phase of highest risk rate.
Norwegian companies have some sources for support, such as financial support, market advice, cultural understanding and networking. Institutions like Innovation Norway, INTSOK, Eksportkreditt and GIEK can provide the necessary helping hand, and some of these organizations are based in Brazil too.
Innovation Norway has offices in all Norwegian districts and in over thirty countries. The offices abroad have wide knowledge of both the local and the Norwegian markets, and the local teams know how to overcome the specific challenges that the Norwegian companies may have. Therefore, Innovation Norway helps reducing the risk of entering a different market too. Norwegian companies have access to financing solutions, public funds for innovative businesses, and a wide network.
IN’s office in Rio de Janeiro is in close cooperation with Petrobras, and there is a Memorandum of Understanding fostering innovative Norwegian technology to supply the needs of the Brazilian state owned E&P company. Another MOU was signed by Innovation Norway and BG Group aiming to identify new technologies and promote collaboration on R&D.
Another source for support is INTSOK, present in Rio de Janeiro. The organization can assist Norwegian companies is several ways, as market information, local advisory, workshops and seminars, and market entry projects. The Brazil Entry Program is a very successful initiative by INTSOK to assist selected Norwegian companies in mapping the potential of the Brazilian market. The program involves workshops in Norway about how to do business in Brazil, in addition to business strategy, market screen, partner survey, a week in Brazil meeting potential partners and clients, concluded by a strategy work and a business plan. In 2012, five Norwegian companies composed the agenda of the program.
The Norwegian Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) is promoting network within the business community through events, luncheons, seminars and presentations, being as well a communication channel for the Scandinavian business community in Brazil. Members are entitled to contribute with articles for the magazine Nordic Light, for instance, a joint initiative by SwedCham and NBCC.
These three institutions have been working closely in cooperation, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aiming to create a better structure for the Norwegian businesses in Brazil and following up the Strategy for Cooperation published by the MFA.
Concerning financing solutions, Garanti-Instituttet for Eksportkreditt (GIEK) can offer safe export credits on behalf of the Norwegian government. The exporters are then able to offer credit or finance without bearing the entire risk alone. Recently, GIEK and Petrobras signed a Memorandum of Understanding that allows for up to US$ 1 billion in credit guarantees to cover exports to Petrobras, part of the company’s financing strategy for projects included in the 2012-2016 Business Plan.
One more gateway for funding is Eksportkreditt, previously owned by a consortium of banks operating in Norway (85%) and the Norwegian government (15%), now fully owned by the Norwegian government. The organization provides long-term financing for the Norwegian export sector, and the guarantee may come from GIEK or a commercial bank.
Norway has developed a series of door openers for companies with international potential. In Brazil, this formula has worked very well. The Norwegian presence has increased significantly within the past years, mainly in Rio de Janeiro.
Experience assisting Norwegian companies in a market abroad leads to the conclusion that Norway is pioneer when it comes to provide support for companies to grow international. 70% of Innovation Norway’s customers claimed they would not have carried out their projects without the support from IN.
In such a complex market as Brazil, Norwegian companies have several ways for being one step ahead of the international competition, and for each market entry bottleneck, there is some institution able to give you support.