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Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands – Europe’s main trading and distribution center for fruits, vegetable and fruit juices (Source: thelink.co.in)

When I embarked on my new career as an international trade professional, there were no international business courses yet available at the educational institutions in Fortaleza, capital of the Northeastern State of Ceará. Anyone seeking qualification in the field had to move down south to the major commercial cities, such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Then in 1990, President Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1992) opened the Brazilian market to imports, increasing the demand for qualified international trade professionals throughout the country.

By the time I had joined the import/export team at Melon Exporters S.A. (fictitious name), two-day specialized certificate courses (a total of 16 hours) had become available at privately-run training institutes for business executives and entrepreneurs. Qualified experts in their fields, the majority of them from São Paulo, conducted these courses. During the two years (1992-1994) that I worked at Melon Exporters S.A., the president and owner of the company, at my request, not only granted me the time off (usually Fridays and Saturdays), but also (at his own discretion) granted approval for payment of these courses.

I also participated in one-day seminars conducted by the Banco do Brasil, controlled by the Brazilian government and responsible for issuing Import and Export Licenses; conferences for importers and exporters held by state and federal government organs; and regional agricultural fairs and expositions.

At the request of the company’s Commercial Director, I kept a record of the UK wholesale market prices for melons published in the Fresh Produce Journal. I read the weekly-published journal from front to back, as well as a monthly English magazine for fruit growers (the name slips me) that the company also subscribed to. Through books (we did not have Wikipedia at the time), I immersed myself in the European fresh fruit market and the logistics of moving fresh fruit from the farm gate to overseas buyers.

It was a fascinating and challenging journey of discovery, learning, and achievement!

When one lacks funds, time or whatever obstacles stand in the way of achieving one’s goals, there is always a way. It requires more effort and determination. With focus and passion, it is truly amazing what one can achieve.