Work Abroad but earn in USD

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Business in Buenos Aires

Today, I’m responding to the comment of a specific reader about the business environment in Buenos Aires. The reader asked, “Is there a lot of Italian food in BA, I like that and always thought of a restaurant as a universal business that could work anywhere.” The answer is an enthusiastic “YES!” As you may or may not be aware, Argentina traces its history back to a large wave of Spanish and Italian immigrants. In fact, in the Spanish-speaking world, Argentinos are commonly thought of as people who speak Spanish with an Italian accent.

There are quite a few Italian restaurants in Buenos Aires. In addition to their mate and empanadas for afternoon snacks, you’ll always find porteños eating at steakhouses, pizzerias, and Italian restaurants for lunch and dinner. Though I don’t know much about the restaurant industry, I can give you a gut feeling that an Italian restaurant would work well in Buenos Aires – people there eat a lot of Italian food.

Of course, I’m no expert, but just being in the city for a while can tell you a lot of things. For example, I’m almost positive a bagel shop would fail. I have yet to see a single place that sells bagels. There are no Einstein’s or Bruegger’s bagel shops anywhere on Buenos Aires. When I tried to describe a bagel to my co-workers, they just had no concept of what this strange food was.

If you’d like to learn more, I can give you a good contact. The husband of one of my co-workers works for a food distributor, supplying food to restaurants in Buenos Aires. So, if you are interested in learning more, drop me a line and I’ll send you the contact. Thanks again for the comment.

Remember readers, send me comments! I’ll happily address your individual questions and interests in future articles.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an Argentinian living abroad. I would like you to comment more on how you view Argentinian and especially portenos. The good, the bad and the ugly stuff. Thanks for your blog!!

2/08/2005 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger ABA said...

I am American and moved here last year. I came down about 17 times before I moved here over the course of 3 years. I find Portenos very educated and friendly. However, it's a lot different living here as a tourist and another as a citizen.

Before moving down here, I read that Transparency International, which is a respected organization, listed Argentina as one of the most corrupt countries in the world to do business in.

I thought that had to be wrong before I moved down here. How could Argentina be grouped with countries like Libya, Ethiopia, Kenya, Angola and the Congo??

Let me tell you something. After living down here and doing business with these locals I can tell you that I'm surprised Argentina isn't ranked further down the list. It's sad to say but the way many businesses here do business is criminal. The sad part is that they have done business like this for so long... this is all normal to them.

There is no sense of ethics or loyalty. People here for the most part don't think about future relationships down the road. Argentines try to extract as much as they can out of the first/only transaction. They try to make as much as they can in the beginning and they don't worry about a longer term mutually beneficial relationship in the future.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge I have doing business here. The honest truth is that the vast majority of companies here in Argentina would be bankrupt within 2-3 months in the USA or the UK.

This kind of behavior though is what has caused my company to grow so quickly. Americans and Europeans don't like doing business this way. Investors that are flocking to Argentina don't trust the locals (for good reason) so they have hired me as a consultant to assist them.

I truly believe that those with a good business background from the USA/UK/Europe/Asia/etc. that understand business and long term relationships that have some capital are going to become dominent leaders in whatever fields they go in to here.

There are so many opportunities in Argentina for a foreigner. There is no chance whatsoever for most foreigners to come here and live off of being an employee. You MUST start your own business here.

To answer Anonymous's question. I truly love the locals with all my heart. I chose to leave my life in the USA to come and become a resident in Argentina and probably spend the rest of my life here. Still, doing business here is a nightmare and don't let anyone tell you otherwise...

Good luck.

5/15/2005 02:08:00 AM  

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