Startups bring technology and income to slums during the pandemic

The pandemic It was even more difficult for the poorest residents – and this was evident in the Brazilian favelas, where unemployment has affected people like Alex Ferreira Pinto, 42. Salesperson in an electronics store, fired in June 2020. Shortly thereafter, in the community where he lives, Sao Bernardo do Campo (SP), Alex saw an ad for the Alô Social chip, a mobile startup that launched at the start of the pandemic as an alternative to access Internet at low cost. In search of income, he became a distributor for the company.

Alex’s story points to a movement that has become intense in the health crisis, an ecosystem that brings together entrepreneurs seeking technology resources to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and economic crisis and slum-born entrepreneurs who today act as accelerators for startups in communities, helping to shape an economy With a value of 124 billion Brazilian riyals (look at the picture).

“We can accelerate a startup or even invest in a company that has potential and is still in its early stages. We can even invest in training entrepreneurs, for example.” Growing people so that they can continue to be entrepreneurs, I think I’ve got a return.”

He’s from Athayde, and he’s also the founder of Central Única das Favelas (Cufa), an initiative to create mobile phone startup Alô Social, one of 23 companies he’s investing in through the Favela Holding. Aiming to expand internet access in Brazilian favelas, the startup’s flagship project is the Alozão plan, which costs R$120 per semester, with unlimited calls and 7GB of internet.

For Alex, the Alô Social was a way to restructure himself during this pandemic. “I heard that Alô Social was being sold by people from the same slums. In the first month, I bought 100 chips.” Today, join MEI (Individual Micro Entrepreneur) and sell between 3000 and 5000 chips, with a profit of 1 BRL on each unit. When he was working, he earned R$3,000.

To expand the business, Alex invited other people from the area. Today, it has 20 merchants covering 41 slums in São Bernardo. The sales representative earns between 1,000 and 1,500 Brazilian riyals.


Another initiative that has received attention from Athayde is the Digital Favela, which was opened in partnership with entrepreneur Guilherme Pierri, founder of advertising agency Peppery. The business idea is to “bridging the gap between slums and big brands with micro digital influencers,” says Athayde. The focus is on “people with between 5,000 and 100,000 followers on social networks,” Pierre says.

The trick, he says, is to realize that as marketing departments look into the slums, companies need to have legitimacy in the connection. “There’s no point in creating something that doesn’t have slum language that won’t work.” The executive explains that in addition to referring to the influencer for brands, campaigns at the agency are created by professionals who are hired and trained in slums.

Since starting its activities in 2020, the startup has closed projects with companies such as Facebook, Bayer, Pfizer, Casas Bahia, Boticário, Vult, Claro and Devassa. In this business, he managed to monetize the work of 1500 small influencers. Tamerez da Silva, 23, a resident of Guayanas, east of Sao Paulo, is one of them.

Tamires, Tamirão in Instagram, has 38,000 followers on his profile, where he talks about fashion and urban art. She did her first job with Digital Favela in September, when she was still working as a marketing assistant at an advertising agency, and earned R$2,000.

“I earned R$1,000 on that first job. Then I thought if I developed, I could live on it on my own. It was half of what I earned before, but only in one day,” he recalls. “I left my job a little over six months ago to devote myself solely to the digital influencer business. If you split what I earned on a monthly basis, it should give you roughly R$3,000.”


Like Athayde, other slum-born leaders have made similar strides. This is the case of Gelson Rodriguez, 37, president of União dos Moradores e do Comércio de Paraisópolis and the G10 Favelas, an economic bloc formed by the ten largest Brazilian communities. The group was designed by him in 2019 through WhatsApp communication and maintains an agenda of initiatives backed by technology resources to promote entrepreneurship.

Among the most recent actions are the creation of the Fintech G10 Bank — “BNDES of the favelas,” according to Gilson, which focuses on microcredit to foster local entrepreneurs as well as from other communities — and Bolsa de Valores das Favelas, a project launched in 2020 as a tool To raise funds for projects created in communities throughout Brazil.

Slum exchange envisioned with Divi-Hub, a platform for [ITALIC]Equity crowdfunding[/ITALIC], or collective investment, which follows a simplified Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) regulation. In it, the investor owns shares available starting at R$10, with quarterly dividends distributed.

The first company to be listed on the exchange was Favela Brasil Express, a logistics startup set up by 21-year-old Givanildo Pereira to serve as a distribution hub for undelivered e-commerce platforms in Paraisópolis, as well as in other Brazilian slums.

The startup offered its shares between November 2021 and last March, when it raised R$500,000. Givanildo says the resources will be distributed on different expansion fronts: 42% in logistics systems, 21% in converting the base in Paraisópolis to 100% sustainable, and 21% in the seven slum expansion project they worked on up to an initial public offering to 25 bases – There are currently 10. The remaining 17% will be used to train and improve startups.

New favela

Another project aimed at transforming communities is Favela 3D, created by Gerando Falcões, founded 11 years ago by Eduardo Lira and which today, in addition to its own projects, accelerates initiatives that have arisen in slums. “We have closed agreements with governments and the private sector, and mobilized more than R$52 million to transform slums from start to finish and overcome poverty in that area, to serve as a model,” says Lira. The project, which is currently being implemented in four Brazilian neighborhoods, includes actions ranging from housing construction to training residents to work with the Internet.

One of the communities in the project with the most advanced operations is Marte favela, in São José do Rio Preto, where work is coordinated by Amanda Oliveira. She says it is easy to see the strength of the internet and the ease of accessing the phone with WhatsApp. “There was a lady-owned restaurant here in the neighborhood who had to shut down in quarantine and was able to organize herself through letters, for example. Today she works for The WhatsAppwith applications.

Therefore, the project will have a physical headquarters in the communities, where there will be spaces for training and digital literacy. “Bringing in innovation, digital literacy, and citizenship, is one of the key tools to break the cycle of poverty,” Amanda says.

Lira recalls that Girando Valques mobilized more than 100 million Brazilian reals to fight the epidemic through digital platforms. “Without technology, it would take us centuries to transform slums. With it, it could take decades. I can raise money quickly, quickly find opportunities and hire people. Technology shortens the time period for change in slums.”

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