A New York pizza man’s Brazil nightmare and the mess it exposed

Christiana Sciaudone and David Biller – Bloomberg Business, 7/07/2015

Sei Shiroma is, frankly, a tiny player in Brazil’s $2 trillion economy. A 29-year-old immigrant from New York, he runs a pizzeria out of the ground floor of an old apartment building near downtown Rio de Janeiro. The place seats, when tightly packed, maybe 10 people.

But Shiroma’s saga as an aspiring entrepreneur, and the bitter attitude it instilled in him, underscore one of the great ills plaguing Latin America’s biggest economy. It can be excruciatingly painful to open — and then operate — a business in Brazil.

Shiroma refers to the months he spent last year supervising construction and tracking down documents needed to open the restaurant as the worst time of his life. And then he delivers a damning verdict: When he expands his business, he may go somewhere in Europe rather than trying to open another pizzeria in Brazil.

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