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COVID-19: An ESSEC Alumnus Reports From Brazil




Brazil, like many developing countries, is struggling to manage the pandemic. Yvan Bernardin (E91), president of ESSEC Alumni’s Brazil Chapter, shares his concern – but also his trust in the country’s ability to bounce back. 

ESSEC Alumni: What is the current situation in Brazil?

Yvan Bernardin: On April 17th, Brazil officially had 30,9610 cases and 1,956 deaths. However statistics are not really reliable, for a lack of exhaustive transmission of information more than for a lack of transparency. Deaths at home or in small healthcare centers are probably not taken into account, and we do not have a network of retirement homes developed like EHPADs in France to assess the number of victims among the elderly rigorously. 

EA: How does Brazil respond to the pandemic?

Y. Bernardin: States have the autonomy to order lock-down and to close non-essential businesses and services. However the Federal Authority can override the decisions of the States, in particular with the provisional measures that the President can impose at any time without obtaining the prior authorization of the Congress. This is what Bolsonaro is trying to do, but he is facing resistance from certain governors such as those of the States of São Paulo and Rio.

EA: How does the pandemic impact Brazil’s economy?

Y. Bernardin: The GDP is down by at least 3-4% this year. Not to mention the dire situation of the informal sector, non-essential businesses, catering and all those who find themselves unemployed. The State has released a punctual and modest aid – 600 R$/month/person, which is about 110€! Still, it is helpful when there is no more income at all, for the many street vendors for example.

EA: What news from the local ESSEC community in this context?

Y. Bernardin: Most of our alumni work at home in a fairly regular way, with no impact in terms of income, and they take advantage of the lockdown to spend more time with their family. Several self-employed professionals and small entrepreneurs suffer directly from the economic crisis though.

EA: How does this situation impact you? 

Y. Bernardin: Professionally, this is bad, because my new venture in adventure tourism (trekking, cycling and self driving tours) in South America will be stopped for an indefinite period even after lockdown, and my 24-years activity in the development of new business is also on hold. However I try and see this as an opportunity to redesign my website, and I’m getting ready for the post-COVID world.

EA: How is the post-crisis period shaping up in your country?
 Y. Bernardin: The lockdown is extended until May 14 in São Paulo. Then they will probably maintain confinement for groups at risk only. Many small businesses will not survive until then though. However Brazilians are used to such economic disruption and they are creative, responsive and resourceful, it will help them turn things around faster than in other countries.

Interview by Veary Ngy, International  Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni

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