Move over BRIC; PICKIMM is here. Why you should consider other developing locations for foreign investment.

Often heralded as the power houses of the 21st century, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have had a huge amount of buzz around them since the millennium. When thinking of exporting, this famous acronym usually springs to mind, but Talking Heads can reveal why the BRIC countries might not still be the only option when exporting or setting up operations abroad.

Based on a Fortune 500 article entitled ‘The New World of Business’.

The sheer out datedness of BRIC-phenomenon should be reason enough for you to avoid these countries. More than a decade old, the term was created by Goldman Sachs in its excitingly titled 2001 paper ‘Global Economics Paper No. 66: Building Better Global Economic BRICs’. Although BRIC countries attract huge investment annually, the fact that their economic growth has been apparent for more than ten years is starting to show. China, which is often regarded as the behemoth of the four, is experiencing delayed growth and worrying signs on its stock market. Russia is hedging all its bets on crude oil, something which could be deemed a very risky move. Finally, all four nations fall into the ‘corrupt’ end of the Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 making BRICs not seem so rosy after all.

The second reason why the BRIC countries aren’t always the best for business entry is that with previous growth and investment they have become overly bureaucratic. It is harder than ever to invest in these nations due to the restrictions BRIC countries have placed on foreign direct investment. Businesses need to consider that there are other markets with higher growth potential and fewer barriers to investment.

Thirdly – investment is moving elsewhere. BRICs can be seen as ‘has beens’. You’re pretty late in the game to be investing into these nations now; the BRIC bubble has seemingly burst.

That is why suggestions have centred around other potential suitors for your time, money and expertise (and risk). Seven new nations should be considered. They have even been given their own catchy acronym (by us): PICKIMM, ‘pick em’ (get it?!); what more do you need? Here we’ll give a brief overview of why you should consider these over the sluggish BRIC countries. 

Poland

Polska has a balanced government that is likely to continue investment in infrastructure, enticing FDI with emphasis especially on the defence and energy sectors. These movements will likely be in effect in 2016, so delay your investment until then.

Written language – Polish
Spoken – Polish, Kashubian, Polish Sign Language.

Do Say – “Pan/Pani” (honourable titles for either a man or woman).
Don’t Say – “I’m late but it doesn’t matter, right?” Punctuality in business is key.

India

Although India is the ‘I’ of BRIC and we suggest trying alternatives places to invest, it is still worth a punt. The main reason is that it’s the healthiest component of the BRIC nations and there is still huge potential to tap into. Modi’s government has liberalised labour and environment laws, great financial incentives are worthy of investment and structural changes implemented by the government should boost India’s sluggish growth.

Written language - Devanagari, Gujarati alphabet, Perso-Arabic script, Kannada alphabet, Gurmukhi, Malayalam alphabet, Bengali alphabet, Oriya alphabet, Assamese script, Tamil alphabet, Telugu alphabet, Lepcha script, Limbu script, Meitei Mayek script, etc.  Too many to list here. Do business in English.
Spoken Languages – Over 780 (India is a diverse nation).

Do Say – The correct terms for place names such as “Mumbai, Bangaluru, Surat.” 
Don’t Say – The incorrect colonial terms for place names such as “Bombay, Bangalore, Suryapur”

Colombia

Colombia is the jewel in the Latin American crown. Forecasted peace talks with left-wing rebel groups and the government are likely to succeed; they both agree with policies of economic development, meaning your investment will be sought after, given government expenditure into rural development. An extra business tip – have your business card printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other; present them Spanish side up.

Written language – Spanish (Colombia).
Spoken language – Spanish (Colombia) and over 60 other spoken languages (often specific to indigenous groups).

Do Say – “¡Radamel Falcao es el Tigre!”
Don’t Say – Anything negative with regards to bull fighting; it is very popular and you may offend.

Kenya

One of Africa’s leading nations, Kenya is a better investment than South Africa or Nigeria due to the IMF keeping inflation in check. A stable currency and the acceleration in developing infrastructure and power by President Uhuru Kenyatta help.

Written language – English, Swahili (Lingua Franca). 
Spoken languages – Kalenjin, Kamba, Kikuyu, Kisii, Luhya, Luo, Meru, Kenyan Sign Language etc.

Do Say – “Hello” or “Jambo” to everyone within a business meeting individually. Start with the most senior person first. Ensure you use a person’s title and full name when first meeting someone.  
Don’t be impatient if business does not start straight away; if you’re new, expect small talk. 

Indonesia

Often known for its increasing traveller numbers who flock to Bali in droves, Indonesia is so much more than a cultural getaway. A rapidly expanding middle class, an influential new president, subsidies for oil and gas sectors and higher spending on education make Indonesia a strong contender for your business’ attention.

Written language – Indonesian.
Spoken language – Over 700 living languages.

Do Say – “Do you really mean yes?” (Indonesian’s often like to please so may say yes when they mean no). 
Don’t Say – “I understand that you speak the Bahasa Indonesian language” – ‘Bahasa’ means ‘language’ so you’ll be repeating yourself.

Malaysia

Foreign investment tax incentives are part of the government’s Economic Transformation Programme with particular emphasis on overseas manufacturing and finance companies.

Written language – Malay (Latin) alphabet, English.
Spoken language – Malay, 137 other living languages.

Do Say – “It is a pleasure to meet you Dr/Mr/Mrs/Miss/Prof.”
Don’t – Exchange business cards with the left hand. 

Mexico

Mexico City has developed a bad rap sheet, granted. However the country, dripping in a rich and passionate culture, has undergone deep reforms since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012. Focussing on growth in the energy and telecommunications sector, Mexico is piggybacking on the growing US economy which attracts tourism and improves border relationships.

Written language – Spanish (Mexico). 
Spoken language – Over 68 other indigenous languages.

Do Say – “Yes, I would love a drink” (if offered always accept, it is deemed an insult if you refuse). 
Don’t stand with your hands on your hips or in pockets in business meetings. The former denotes aggressiveness whilst the latter is deemed impolite.  

Need cultural advice or in-country market research for any of the aforementioned countries? Email Us

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