A wise man once said that all good things must come to an end, and IBIP is no exception. On Friday, we had our last two company visits for the entire trip: the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) and Petrobras. Our day began bright and early with a quick breakfast before we left for the Development Bank in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Once there, our hosts spoke at great length about the bank itself and biofuels department. The Brazilian National Development Bank was established in 2007 with the mission of funding Brazilian projects that are both public and private in nature. BNDES plays a major role in the Brazilian economy because many other potential sources of capital in the state are highly risk-adverse and will not typically offer long-term capital. BNDES fills this gap by focusing on long-term projects that require large amounts of capital. Moreover, BNDES funds over 100 sugarcane projects to improve the development of biofuels in Brazil, especially in the realm of improving ethanol technology. BNDES is betting a considerable amount of money on second generation ethanol, which is also known as E2G. Our hosts believe that E2G has the potential to be a game-changing technology because it enables sugarcane producers to extract more sugar from crops and extra biomass. As of now, this technology has the potential to be more lucrative than oil, even if oil prices drop below $40 USD per barrel. We all found it to be very enlightening,
After a vibrant discussion during the Q&A, our group had a light lunch to prepare ourselves for the grand finale that is the Petrobras meeting. Stuart was incredibly excited for this visit and was preparing his questions throughout the day. Petrobras is Brazil’s national oil company, which provides fuel and sets the prices for the Brazilian market. Petrobras has had a rather interesting few years because the company has been the focus of recent scandals and has become synonymous with corruption in Brazil. With all of this considered, we went to Petrobras to talk about their biofuels department and how they are adjusting to an ever-changing fuel industry. Like BNDES, Petrobras sees great potential in E2G, but their main focus is in developing biodiesel from soy and animal fat. Their main sourcing focus for these materials includes small farmers. This is important for Petrobras because the sourcing strategy grants them the Social Fuel Stamp, which grants tax benefits and bid priority. The company also has many partnerships around the world, but they are looking to downsize. Overall, our hosts were gracious and open to answer even the toughest of questions.
Today was our last full day in Brazil, which means that IBIP had to start saying its goodbyes to our guides Andre and Renato. Our day ended with a four course meal in Copacabana which was organized by Andre and Renato. We cannot thank Andre and Renato enough for what they have done for our group over the past two weeks and for showing us their home country. Many of us will surely miss them, but we all made the most out of our final day. Our day ended with Andre and Renato taking us to a night club in Rio de Janeiro, which we all agreed was the most vibrant part of the day. The nightlife was akin to a Blackhawks rally, but the people were out until 6am. We danced, we laughed, we talked, and we enjoyed our last night with our guides before we had to say our real goodbyes on Saturday.
These two weeks have been transformative for everyone in IBIP. We have been to Sao Paulo, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, and everywhere in between. We met tour guides, farmers, managers, students, and people from many other walks of life. We learned about culture, agribusiness, and ourselves. However, many of us agree that our trip was all too short. In conclusion, two weeks was not enough time to fully understand Brazil and its people. However, it will serve as the foundation of our development for years to come.