SEBRAE. the Brazilian Micro enterprise and Small Business Support Service, is a private sector association active throughout Brazil to promote sustainable development, competitiveness and technical skills upgrading in small and medium-sized enterprises and came into being in 1972 as result of a pioneer initiative of many institutions that encourage entrepreneurship in the country. Since then, Sebrae has significantly contributed to the development of Brazil, since it lends its support to a segment that accounts for 99.23% of the business of the country and generates 28.7 million jobs: the micro and small enterprises. It is about 14.9 million ventures, out of which 4.5 million are formal and 10.3 million are informal. Supporting the opening and the expansion of small business, Sebrae changes people`s life and contributes to the sustainable development of communities. That is, an essentially citizenship-oriented service committed to the construction of a better country and a fairer and more equalitarian society.
Footnote: Sources - IBGE 2003, CEMPRE 2004
As a private entity of public interest that has as its main source of revenue the contribution collected from enterprises, Sebrae has a clear and transparent mission of offering to micro and small enterprises the conditions necessary for their survival, prosperity and active contribution to the country`s growth through the generation of jobs and income.
Sebrae- A commitment the size of Brazil.
Sebrae is present all over Brazil. From North to South of the country, there are Brazilians who dream of opening their own business and other thousands that persistently struggle for the survival and expansion of their enterprises. Sebrae exists for these Brazilians and spares no effort to reach each and all of them, providing knowledge and enterprising solutions.
The capillarity of Sebrae certifies this commitment to the country. Today, the system is decentralized, made up of units distributed in the 27 states and in the Federal District and for the National Sebrae, in Brasilia. Together they make up a network that encompasses approximately 750 points of service delivery.
The system operates contemplating and respecting the regional particular traits, needs and differences. The National Sebrae is responsible for the strategic direction of the system, for defining the guidelines and the priorities of action. The state units develop their actions and projects in response to the regional reality without losing sight of the alignment and conformity with the national guidelines. This coordinated action allows for an efficient management committed to results, which turns Sebrae into one of the most trustworthy and active institutions in operation in the country.
In order to achieve this goal, Sebrae counts on a network of 4.433 employees and 9.223 external consultants who are capable and committed to the country`s growth. These professionals are aimed at transmitting knowledge and at changing lives.
When Sebrae is close, entrepreneurs go far. To reduce distances and to expand opportunities. To revolutionise the service delivery to potential entrepreneurs and to micro and small enterprises already established is a strategic priority of Sebrae`s.
The purpose is to deliver first-quality and continued services, allowing for a lasting and mutually advantageous relationship between Sebrae and entrepreneurs. It is Sebrae at any time, anywhere, transmitting knowledge, by means of the delivery of individual or collective services, whether on the spot or at a distance.
Along this line of reasoning, Sebrae avails itself of a series of communication channels and formats that optimise the dissemination of knowledge, providing agile and relevant information to an increasing number of Brazilians:
oRadio - orientation programmes, with simple and direct language, with the purpose of reaching the low-income, low-schooling population, more in need of information and with greater difficulties in terms of access.
oTV - the periodic production of videos on management techniques distributed free of charge for broadcasting in community, university, legislative and educational television channels, inter alia.
oThe Internet - the Sebrae Website (http://www.sebrae.com.br/) provides clients with a large quantity of information techniques and guidance, filtered according to the interests of entrepreneurs, the moment their companies are going through, their domain of activity and the location where they operate.
oComics - the illustrated language of comics has proven to be sufficiently useful to facilitate the understanding of information by different audiences.
On-the-spot service delivery is also a priority for the institution. With a view at maximising the quality of the services provided, Sebrae has put in place the Network of Service Delivery to Entrepreneurs, made up of the state units and of approximately 750 points of service delivery distributed all over the national territory. Individual service delivery complies with the previously defined standards, systems and procedures, in order to allow for nation-wide actions. The qualification of the teams in charge of individual service delivery, the establishment of partnerships, the follow-up and the monitoring of results guarantee that entrepreneurs will always have prompt access to the information that meets their needs.
Collective service delivery, in turn, is made up of a set of solutions that organise micro and small enterprises in consortia, cooperatives, associations, centres and local productive arrangements. Sebrae believes that the promotion of the culture of cooperation and of association is fundamental for the strengthening and the competitiveness of micro enterprises, which is an intelligent way to concentrate and to increase the flow of knowledge, by reaching a larger number of entrepreneurs and by generating surprising in-chain results.
Collective solutions are usually related to programmes and projects of sectoral, regional and local development, especially in territories of lesser entrepreneurial activity and low productive specialisation. The concretion of collective solutions involves:
o To awaken interest and to mobilise partners;
o To capture resources to support projects;
o To build methodologies (sectoral and product customisation);
o To organise and systematise specific knowledge on the sectors involved;
o To integrate sectors by supporting the reinforcement of projects;
o To valorise local identities that contribute towards the reinforcement of local and regional socio-cultural dynamics;
o To train and qualify human resources;
o To define market strategies and the adaptation of products and services;
o To articulate public policies and to increase the access to financial services;
o To foster collective learning;
o To technologically improve processes and products;
o To encourage the innovation capacity;
o To foster competitiveness and sustainability.
Along this line of reasoning, Sebrae carries out successful collective experiences all over the country; one of them is the creation and the integration of Productive Chains. Each chain promotes alliances among enterprises of different sectors that, by means of collective projects of common interest, reduce their costs, expand the level of quality of their products, exchange information and technologies and create internal demands for products and partnerships. This process generates a cycle of advantages for all the parties concerned.
Another successful experience is competitive integration, a strategy that develops joint projects for enterprises of different segments sharing the same target audience. One can mention the work of integration of enterprises in the areas of furniture, toys, footwear, ready-to-wear apparel and products of hygiene and perfume meant for children.
The competitive insertion of small enterprises in the global market is also a priority of Sebrae`s policies in terms of service delivery. One of the strategies implemented is the rise of the quality platforms and the identification of competitive differentials. Sebrae offers entrepreneurs the following bases of technical and operational support:
o the establishment of partnerships with relevant organisations within the industry and the sectors at issue;
o the strategic planning based upon the overall situation and on specific details of each sector, on the basis of the observation of market trends and of the new technological standards;
o the exploitation of opportunities created by public policies and international organisations;
o the dissemination of the culture of knowledge among entrepreneurs and their employees.
Knowledge acquired its form and takes contents to Brazilians. Knowledge is the path through which entrepreneurs will continue evolving and looking for opportunities. This is the banner Sebrae bears and perpetuates. Therefore, Sebrae has developed a series of products in diverse formats that promote entrepreneurial education and make the management of small businesses more efficient.
o Courses and lectures - delivered on the spot or in long-distance form (through the Internet, radio or television).
o Information and consultancy - customised guidance with regard to the opening of business, or the upgrading of business starting from an entrepreneurial diagnosis.
o Publications - books, manuals, charts and guides that accompany entrepreneurs throughout the different stages of their entrepreneurial life.
o Promotion of events - fairs and exhibitions that promote contacts among enterprises (buyers, sellers and competitors), the generation of business, the exchange of experiences and new experiences of micro and small-sized enterprises.
o Awards - incentive and encouragement for small businesses. One way to value people and to the disseminate practices. The Sebrae Entrepreneur Mayor Award is an example of this. Distributed every second year, this award recognises public rulers that adopt practices of city management geared to the development of small businesses. The Sebrae Businesswoman Award also highlights as it recognises the increasing presence of women in the entrepreneurial milieu, and the Entrepreneurial Expert Award - in two categories, technological and technical - which encourages the education of young people in the domain of innovation and increases the quality and competitiveness of small companies.
To fulfil its mission, Sebrae makes its homework. Sebrae understands that the transmission of knowledge to entrepreneurs is as important as the in-house use of this tool for the creation of new solutions and for breaking paradigms. That is Sebrae, an institution that uses of its commercial intelligence, strategic sense and its power of economic and political articulation to put into practice its commitment to small enterprises and to the development of the country. Therefore, the institution has developed indispensable support activities that justify and render feasible its mission. They are:
Sebrae effectively operates in the formulation of public policies with a view at creating an institutional environment more favourable to micro and small-sized enterprises. The institution understands that factors such as the reduction of the tax burden and of social-security charges and the simplification of bureaucratic requirements are indispensable for the emergence of new enterprises, for the increase of competitiveness of already existing companies and for the reduction of the mortality rate of small businesses.
In this context, Sebrae assisted in the legislative shaping of the norms that govern micro and small-sized enterprises, thus bringing about much progress for the sector. An example of this endeavour was the coordination of debates and negotiations for the drafting of the Statute of Micro-Companies and Small-Sized Companies. After a three-year struggle, the statute, also called General Micro and Small Company Act was approved by the President of the Republic, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The enactment of this law was a major achievement of Sebrae and of society at large. The new law establishes better conditions and opens new perspectives for the development of small businesses on the country, including:
- The creation of the National `Simple` tax-return model, which unifies national, state and municipal taxes;
- The reduction of red tape in process of opening new companies;
The facilitated issuance of business licenses;
- The opportunity of selling goods and delivering services to the government;
- The incentive to exports;
- The creation of the simple consortium;
- Credit cooperatives;
- Access to technology.