Saturday, March 27, 2010

Argentina Chile study tour day five

Thursday March 18 2010

Full day today with two morning and one afternoon meetings. Our Santiago guide Claudia told us that there had been two aftershocks in the early morning; no one seemed to have noticed.

First stop was the local chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce, where we had two speakers both of whom were US expats. John Welby gave us a great overview on the economy and current trade issues. Steven Buchanan provided a personal account on what an expat needs to do in Chile to become accepted and credible to the business community. His advice included the following: find a niche, learn the language, be careful selecting partners, understand your market, embrace a local accountant, and "always give more than you receive."

Back to the hotel for a presentation from microbrew entrepreneur Christoph Flaskamp, a German expat who has unleashed his Tubinger brand on Chile. Flaskamp talked about the challenges facing startups in general and brewing startups in particular. Pisco and wine are the two dominant alcoholic beverages in Chile; microbrews are just starting to get noticed. The students had many questions (including one who is starting his own microbrew enterprise in the Sandhills region soon) and enjoyed the opportunity to taste a small sample of Flaskamp's product.

After lunch we all hopped on a bus and went downtown to visit Andres Bello University for a talk from Prof. Marcelo Mena about energy and environmental challenges facing Chile. Chile does not produce much in the way of petroleum and natural gas, making it heavily dependent on imports. Hydropower and wind are being closely scrutinized as energy sources for the future.

Most of the students stayed downtown to shop and explore after Mena's talk. A brave few sampled the terremoto, a blend of white wine and pineapple sherbet. Terremoto is the Spanish word for earthquake.

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