SIWT #5: 23 changemakers in Brazil to inspire you

Последнее обновление 8 апреля 2014 г..

SIWT #5: 23 changemakers in Brazil to inspire you

Brazil is a country of a stunning contradictions. While more than 70 millions of its inhabitants have access to Internet and possess a smartphone, 16 million of its citizens still live in extreme poverty. Brazil comes in 10th in terms of countries with greatest social inequality.


Its citizens understand the country’s situation well and are actively trying to show the rest of the world that Brazilians are motivated, creative and care about the well-being of their country. Brazilian social innovation is booming and its projects are very characteristic of the country’s specific needs and complex culture.


My six months stay in this impressive country (did I mention its divine açai?) convinced me of the great entrepreneurial potential present. Today I want to share with you the changemakers that struck me as having the most interesting projects… though there are definitely many others! I’m pleased to take you through those projects that i’m particularly fond of from a country that will always be dear to my heart.




My selection of 12 inspiring projects in Brazil :


1.  Banco Palmas is a microfinance firm in the Conjunto Palmeiras neighborhood, south of Fortaleza. They give loans in Reais (the national currency) to projects that foster the community. They also give out Palmas, a social alternative currency that is exchangeable 1:1 for commodities from certain producers outside Conjunto Palmeiras. Consumers can also use Palmas within Conjunto Palmeiras and if they do so they receive a 15% discount on the normal price.


2.  Meu Rio is a collaborative platform for mobilization that raises awareness for inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro on major changes to public policies. Combining cooperation and civic participation, the community actually succeeded in stopping the demolition of the Friedenreich municipal school to make room for the Maracanã stadium.


3.  Favela painting is the initiative of two dutch artists aiming to beautify disadvantaged brazilian neighborhoods. It’s implementation is simple: invite occupants of favelas to paint their buildings with bright colours, co-creating masterpieces that revive the community. By having tried it in Santa-Marta, a favela in Rio de Janeiro, I can personally attest that this kind of project is great for community-building, both between inhabitants themselves and between citizens and gringos like me.


4.  Nó is a meeting platform that inserts itself in the alternative education sphere. Almost the same format as the montreal initiative E-180, Nó enables anyone who’s passionate about something to teach it casually to a group of people through a class, a workshop or even a debate. And vice-versa. This exchange can be free or not, and it requires a minimum number of participants for it to happen. It’s the biggest crowd-learning platform in Brazil.


5.  Color + City is essentially a Google+ group that connects professional or amateur artists with people that have walls to give. Do you own empty facade that depresses you? Add it on the group with a picture and wait for an artist to book it. He or she then has 15 days to paint something on it, otherwise the wall goes out to someone else. Originally from São Paulo, the project quickly spread across brazilian cities, slowly transforming the cement environment into masterpieces.


6.  Mundo Jeri is a women-run cooperative of crochet artisans from Jijoca and Jericoacoara in the Ceará. Hats, dresses and handbags are produced and sold by these women, which fosters the area’s economic development and includes the artisans in the community. I came across Mundo Jeri thanks to Mulheres com coragem, a documentary made by a master’s student at HEC Montréal that had the honor to present it at the UN headquarters in New York in 2012 for the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) Short Film Festival. Congratulations to Charlotte Marchesseault!


7.  Centro de Escalada Urbana is an urban climbing center for unprivileged kids from the biggest favela in Latin America, Rocinha. First of its kind in Brazil, it brings kids closer to climbing, allowing them to participate in a non-violent activity while developing confidence and teaching them to respect the mountains that surround them.  


8.  The Central Bank of Brazil’s project to transform bank notes into organic compost is done collaboratively with the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (UFRA) in the State of Pará. This initiative is the result of many months of financing researchers to come up with the best way to get rid of bank notes that are out of circulation. The winning idea of the UFRA to transform them into fertilizer fits in well with the new national waste policy which made putting bank notes in dumpsters forbidden as of early 2014.


9.  Treebos is an online platform in which it’s possible to virtually plant a tree. At the same time, a real tree is planted in Brazil and the user can follow its development. As soon as it starts bearing fruit, the user will be able to decide what to do with this harvest: receive it at home? donate it to a friend or an organization? sell it through the website and receive money of out it? What would you do?


10.  Favela Orgânica is the name of the culinary organization of the famous chef Regina Tchelly. The catering service it offers mixes with cooking classes, in fancy hotels or at home. Why is it innovative? Because Favela Orgânica cooks organic with food remains that would otherwise be thrown away, like banana peels. The organization also teaches occupants of favelas to grow their own food, cook healthy meals and minimize waste while also implementing a collective urban garden.


11.  Catarse is the first open source crowdfunding platform in Brazil. More than 2.5 millions of dollars were already raised for more than 500 projects spreaded around Brazil. Catarse actually enabled Belo Monte: Anuncio de uma guerra to see the light. The documentary that talks about the controversial construction of the Belo Monte dam in the amazonian rainforest raised almost 76 000 dollars thanks to the community.


12.  Circulê is book trade network in Curitiba of novels that have had an impact in your life. Each time you want to give away a book, you have to say how it changed your life and why you would recommend it. The next reader can then choose one among hundreds  based on your experience that might or might not have touched him in some way, and create one of his own. Cicrulê is more than a book exchange - it is an exchange of life experiences between readers.


My selection of 11 organizations, incubators and brazilian networks :


1.  Social Good Brasil is part of the global movement +Social Good made of citizens that believe in the power technology has to make social changes for the common good. The brazilian branch acts essentially on three pillars: inspiration, activities that stimulate participation; information, interactive online content that promotes citizen action; and the action itself. Social Good Brazil acts as an incubator for projects with a social impact.


2.  Pipa, based in Rio de Janeiro, supports entrepreneurs that wish to have an added value in the social, environmental and financial world. An experienced team in strategy, marketing and technology guides them in two ways: education, through classes on innovation and the lean startup concept; and the acceleration of their shared value project. Pipa is the creation of Cria, a strategy and innovation consulting firm; and Tátil, the design company responsible for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.


3.  Adel is the local development agency of the state of Ceará in northern Brazil. The non profit organization has the mission the promote and accelerate opportunities that foster the economic development of the region through cooperatives and social enterprises.


4.  Imagina na Copa is a network of organizations born during the protests against the World Cup this past summer. The organization introduces and promotes each week initiatives from young citizens that are already changing the country for the better. It encourages brazilians to build a country they’ll be proud to showcase during and after the Fifa World Cup. Because if the situation in Brazil is already so bad, “imagine it during the Cup!” (Imagina na Copa).


5.  Engage, based in Porte Alegre and Rio de Janeiro, is a technological incubator for projects that promote citizen engagement, new economies and collaborative production. Passionate about the creation of collaborative and open source platforms, Engage worked particularly on Meu Rio, Catarse and Nó


6.  The CAIS, Centro de Apoio à Inovação Social (Support center for social innovation) is a coworking and networking space in Florianópolis open only for social entrepreneurs. Consulting services, meeting rooms and libraries are accessible for anyone whose project has a social impact, with the objective of creating creative and inspiring exchanges.


7.  Artemisia is a non for profit organization that supports startups and social entrepreneurs who wish to see Brazil become a more equitable country. Acting as an accelerator for projects with social impacts thanks to its intensive program of training, networking and tools, they developed the CHOICE program that became the largest brazilian network of creative academics engaged in the world of social enterprises. It’s apparently possible to be concerned about the sustainable future of our country and make money at the same time!


8.  Impact Hub São Paulo is a community of social entrepreneurs, social organizations, activists and academics that promote and co-build social activities while taking advantage of a communal space and a solid network of like-minded people who think that Brazil has a lot of creative potential. Impact Hub São Paulo is a branch of the movement Impact Hub in the largest city of South America with a population of more than 10 million inhabitants.


9.  Estaleiro Liberdade seeks to be an entrepreneurial school based on self-knowledge and empowerment. In São Paulo and Porto Alegre, the liberty “ship” is a space for personal development where a small group of people can, during three months, develop their projects surrounded by motivated people that naturally guide each other to make conscious and informed choices. It’s an environment of confidence and collaboration, apparently quite difficult to explain according to their video, that you have to experiment with to understand!


10.  Benfeitora Rio + is prototype platform of innovative solutions found by and for citizens of Rio de Janeiro that brings together enterprises, governments, academics and citizens. These last ones send all the creative ideas they have to improve their city. A group of experts then consider these ideas by analyzing their viability and legality. The population has to vote after for the 13 projects that will be implemented by the Rio’s prefecture. Rio + is a real mine of creative initiatives and a great example of citizen engagement.


11.  Brasil27 is kind of a database that identifies all the successful brazilian social entrepreneurs that made a difference around them. Brasil27 wants to map and analyse all these social initiatives and success stories present in the 27 states of Brazil so they can visualize themselves on a larger scale and inspire others.

Here you go, I hope you enjoyed this social journey! This brazilian list is not at all exhaustive, and I invite you to share in the comments below other projects and organizations that you know and that inspire you. Don’t hesitate to filter the Imagination for People search engine by “country” to discover other initiatives from Brazil or anywhere else.


You can follow the Social Innovation World Tour on Twitter and contribute by using #SIWT.


Our next stop? The Netherlands!

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