Carlos Fernández-Aballí Altamirano is chief strategy consultant for Cuba Strategies Inc., which works to bring sustainable investment to Cuba from the U.S. In this video In this video produced by Fuqua’s Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment, he discusses the challenges and opportunities arising from Cuba’s plan to expand its renewable energy portfolio and modernize its energy infrastructure.
Steve Knode is the deputy senior commercial officer with the United States Commercial Service in Brazil, where Duke Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies professor Ambassador Patrick Duddy once served as consul general.
Reporting to the minister counselor for commercial affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Steve helps oversee a network of five offices and 60 professionals across the country, working principally to assist U.S. exporters with market access and insights, as well as to promote Brazilian investment in the U.S.
A member of the U.S. Foreign Service, Knode has been in his current assignment since September 2012. His other international postings include Malaysia, Japan, and Hungary. Knode met with a group of Fuqua students on a Global Academic Travel Experience trip with Ambassador Duddy in Sao Paulo earlier this year. Knode shares some insights on the U.S. Commercial service and doing business in Brazil in this Fuqua Q&A.
Jaime Sosa is CEO of Prival Bank and graduated from the Global Executive MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 2006. He also serves on Fuqua’s Latin America Regional Advisory Board. Sosa says the first thing anyone trying to do business in Central America needs to understand is that it is a very fragmented region: Six countries, all with different business cultures, drivers and legal framework. He says personal relationships are paramount in the industry and take time and effort to develop.
Sosa shares further insights in this Fuqua Q&A.
Q: What challenges are common across the region?
The current environment for countries that are heavily dependent on commodities is extremely challenging, while others have more favorable economic climates. However, a common theme in a lot of countries in the region is bureaucracy, red tape and corruption. One development that we have seen in the last year is the great effort being made across the region to control and prosecute corruption. This will help the long-term development of the region and the growth of business. but right now one must be very careful to choose the right partners and have the right compliance in place to avoid any contingent liabilities.
Gilberto Caldart believes one of the most important hubs for business in Latin America isn’t located in the region. Instead, he’s seeing Miami play an increasing role in business decisions shaping Latin America. Caldart should know—he has extensive experience in both regions.
After spearheading Citigroup’s businesses in Latin America for more than 26 years, Caldart began his career at MasterCard in 2008 as president of the company’s GeoSouth division based in Sao Paulo. In this role, he managed operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Five years later, he embarked on a new adventure as president for MasterCard’s Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region based in Miami.
Caldart graduated from the Global Executive MBA program at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in 2002. He shared industry and regional insights in a Fuqua Q&A.
Gonzalo Costa has seen the growth of entrepreneurship in Latin America first-hand through more than a decade of working in venture capital and consulting. In 2011, he co-founded NXTP Labs, the most active early-stage investment fund focused on technology startups across Latin America. He is a managing partner based in Buenos Aires.
Gonzalo graduated from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Daytime MBA program in 2001. He shared entrepreneurial and regional insights in a Fuqua Q&A.
Q) What is some basic advice you give startups in Latin America?
First, focus on solving a real problem or need—the bigger it is, the better. The concept of ‘entrepreneurship’ is very trendy these days, and that is a great thing. I am a firm believer that entrepreneurs are changing the world. However, many first-time entrepreneurs get excited about the buzz in certain markets and lose sight that in order to build a successful startup, addressing an actual need is key.
By Dean Bill Boulding
We continue to grow Fuqua’s international presence with a specific principle in mind. We believe our community must be infused with a diversity of people and experiences in order to continue developing the new kind of business leader that the world needs.
Over the last decade, we’ve embedded programs and staff in East Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East and Russia/CIS, and most recently have formally expanded our global footprint to include Latin America. We’re very pleased with the initial results and enthused about the prospects going forward.