Brazil might be in the grip of a political and economic crisis, but this hasn’t stopped its well-financed small business agency Sebrae from developing a slick SME data portal that will be the envy of policymakers and researchers the world over.
The new portal DataSebrae was launched last week during the ninth edition of an annual Sebrae competition (Prefeito Empreendedor) that honours mayors who develop initiatives to assist small businesses.
The data portal (pictured below) contains a variety of data collected from recent years and shows among others things where small businesses are located, how many jobs they create and what kinds of activities they are involved in.
The portal also shows economic and social indicators in the various municipalities – such as income and the Human Development Indicator and level of schooling.
The number is based mainly on figures drawn from the tax receiver. The majority of small and micro firms operate in the commerce sector (43%) and services (37%).
One is also able to see exports per category, survival rate, jobs by size of business and tax statistics. Maps via a tool on the site allow one to view the number of small businesses by state and municipality, their turnover and jobs generated by small and micro firms.
Awards for mayors
The launch of the new portal was made on Tuesday last week in Brasilia where 12 mayors were honoured by Sebrae for innovative initiatives that assist small businesses in 2015 and 2016. They were chosen from 148 winners in each state and an original 1 800 applications.
The competition has prizes per state as well as for various categories, these include: the best project, the implementation of Lei Geral, government purchases from small businesses, reducing red tape and formalising small businesses.
One of those honoured was Jeferson Andrade (pictured above receiving his award), the mayor of the municipality of Madre de Deus situated in the metropolitan area of Salvador, Bahia for the Madre Total initiative, which includes various initiatives, such as a project sponsored by a brewery for a beachfront complex for traders and the installation of CCTV cameras for the municipality.
The winner in the category of government purchases was Laércio Schuster Júnior, the mayor of Timbo in the state of Santa Catarina for using the power of government purchases to boost local development. Currently 63% of the municipality’s purchases come from within the municipality itself.
During a course organised by Sebrae, Schuster Júnior’s administration adopted recommendations from experts sent out by the small business agency and began putting in place measures to reduce red tape and to support entrepreneurship, beginning with the creation of a unit for entrepreneurs.
Following this the municipality organised training for entrepreneurs in selling to the government and for public servants.
Another winner was Sirlene Pereira Ferreira Svartz, the mayor of Laranjeiras do Sul, in the northern state of Parana, who clinched the category for red tape reduction for setting up a one-stop shop to attend to entrepreneurs’ questions about registration and doing business with the municipality.
This was accompanied by a census of firms carried out by the municipality in which officials were also able to gauge any concerns that business owners had about running their business in the area.
Since the unit was set up in 2013 the number of businesses has boomed from 1,636 to 2,997 at the end of last year, most of these are one-man shows (registered under the category of micro empreendedor individual).
The data portal and competition show two things that governments should encourage when devising initiatives to support small businesses - collect and publicise data in an accessible way and encourage public servants to get stuck in with making it easier for small firms to do business).
These two initiatives alone can do something to get the public to advocate for better small business support and go some way to getting the public sector to render better service and support to SMEs. It could be a game changer.
Timm is a South African who writes on small business. For more on Sebrae see this earlier post. Click here to sign up for the monthly Small Business Insight newsletter.
Stephen Timm is a