On Tuesday, June 5, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Mauro Vieira and Ney Campello, secretary of state of Bahia, spoke to a packed room in Jon M. Huntsman Hall on Wharton’s campus. The event was made possible by a partnership between Wharton’s Small Business Development Center and several organizations, including the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, the Oudunde Festival and the City of Philadelphia.

Brazil has a unique opportunity approaching: In 2014, the South American nation will host the FIFA World Cup and, in 2016, the Summer Olympic games. These massive athletic events have never before been held in such a close timespan in the same country, and never before has the prospect of economic growth from these events been so plausible.

Historically, Brazil and Pennsylvania have played a role in each other’s economic development. Brazil is Pennsylvania’s eighth largest market for exports. In addition, Brazil and Philadelphia have a special connection— the first Brazilian head of state visit was to Philadelphia in 1876, and the country has continued to work closely with partners in Philadelphia. Secretary Campello noted how special it was to be at Wharton because of “how well Wharton is known around the world.”

Mauro Vieira

As Brazil grows, the School and Penn’s relationship with the country seems to grow as well. Brazil’s government has sponsored a select number of students to attend international universities through its Science without Borders program; five attend the University of Pennsylvania.

While Brazilian students seek to come here, our alumni often seek to go there—more than 430 Wharton alumni reside in the country. Little wonder—Brazil is the world’s sixth largest economy. It is rapidly expanding, having grown substantially over the last decade. And the United States and Brazil represent the Western Hemisphere’s largest democracies.

“Invest in Brazil. It’s good business,” urges Ambassador Vieira.

With two of the largest sporting events in the world coming up soon, he may very well be right. Certainly the next four years are an unprecedented opportunity, one that may never occur again.

“Everyone is talking about Brazil,” adds Vieira.