From a 7.5% GDP growth, in 2011, to the worst recession in history, in 2016.

The backwards turn Brazil took in just about 5 years was unimaginable by many. It shocked even Brazilians who have experienced past crisis.

The troubling economy coupled with the largest corruption scandal in the country’s history couldn’t come at a worst time, when the eyes of the world will be soon upon it, as Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympic Games.

Inflation and unemployment have soared with 11.4 million Brazilians currently unemployed, up nearly 20% from a year ago. Bankruptcy filings have doubled, the most recent case, telecom Oi SA, is also the country’s largest.

On top of that, the massive corruption scandal at oil company Petrobras led to criminal charges against politicians and business men for a bribery scam worth billions of dollars. Several Petrobras executives, contractors and politicians have been implicated, President Rousseff has been suspended for allegedly using accounting maneuvers to cover up a budget deficit.

As a result, the market has crumbled, the economy is expected to contract 3.8% this year leaving many concerned about the region’s stability.

However, macroeconomics and information technology are less attached than one may think.

Tech spending in Brazil is rising and entrepreneurship is flourishing.

According to an IDC study, the Brazilian IT market will grow 2.6% this year. Ecommerce and web services have grown over 20% in the last few years, online sales surpassed $10 billion in 2015, up 15% from previous year. Moreover, the country has one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world. Studies show that Brazilians are increasingly using their phones to purchase products and services online. 45% of the Brazilian Internet users made some type of payment via smartphones in 2015, up from 21% in 2014.

Plugged into this new mobile & social media-fueled reality, a fresh batch of entrepreneurs are building solid companies while riding the crisis.

For all the above, Brazil remains a top market for American enterprises, some of which will be represented at our conference to discuss trends and opportunities.


Overview on 2015 Conference by our reporter Debora Silva