By Fiona Hurrell, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday May 8th, the Sofitel hotel in Copacabana played host to the monthly meeting of the Expat Business and Real Estate group, an event which first started in 2007. The group, whose primary focus was to bring the city’s expat population together, has since evolved in to a social business networking group, holding regular events that enable both English speakers and Brazilians to get together and discuss business tips, real estate opportunities and the chance to get together with like minded individuals.
Meetings are held at various locations across the city, usually in bars or restaurants and other informal settings which allow expats to interact in a laid back, friendly environment. The Meet-Up Group was set up by real estate businessman Anthony Giuffida.
Originally from Pennsylvania, USA, Anthony has lived in the Rio state for seven years and designed the group as a means to help other Foreigners living in Rio overcome the bureaucracy that can make business difficult if unaware of the ins and outs of the countries legislation. With over 700 members it acts as a free social networking or online platform, allowing people from all over the world to interact.
“Numbers are not what is important here” says Anthony, “It’s the successful business opportunities that may be gained as a result of the group that’s key.”
Indeed in recent years the theme has shifted from simply a social meeting group, of which there are already a number in operation, to a business based group, focused in particular on the real estate market which is predicted to boom as the coming World cup and Olympics promise to bring more English speaking nationals to the City.
Increased popularity has stemmed from a high return on investment and good growth potential in the city’s real estate, further fueled by its multifaceted cultural dynamics, and of course the great beaches, fantastic climate and friendly locals.
The roof terrace of the Sofitel hotel, which offers fantastic views across Copacabana, is the perfect location for this month’s meeting. Over eggs and bacon, attendees chat, offer advice and swap contact details for possible real estate opportunities.
Carolyn from Texas (in the U.S.) has been living in Rio for six months and says events and meetings such as this are extremely beneficial for foreigners who are new to the city and want help finding real estate or are simply looking to get in touch with other expats and Carioca’s. “It’s certainly a great place to meet other English speaking Foreigners and Brazilians. I would definitely recommend it.”
Undoubtedly the relaxed and casual ambiance of the locations prove especially practical considering so many of Brazil’s business transactions are built up around and take place in social settings.
Marcio Eduardo Grinbaum is an architect who has spent the last 30 years in the UK having since returned to his native Brazil to take advantage of the predicted growth. “Being Brazilian with 30 years experience in England, this is a great way of mixing with both nationalities with a business agenda – which is very rare”.
As far as the future of the group is concerned, no doubt further growth is expected in the years running up to the World Cup and Olympics which will increase its value to foreigners looking to invest in a home here. But as Anthony says, “The meetings provide people with the opportunities to make contact. After that, the rest is up to them.”