by Jiselle Steele

I was delighted to be a part of the launch of EmpreendeRio, EixoRio’s new capacity building programme for underserved, aspiring entrepreneurs in Rio. It was a particularly proud moment as the first _SocialStarters programme in the Rio this summer inspired the development and creation of EmpreendeRio – “empreende” being a play on words as empreender means to undertake something but also means to be enterprising or entrepreneurial.

We worked with 12 inspiring individuals and collectives as part of the Rio Immersion programme in June who set out to tackle a range of social issues from racism and teen pregnancy to youth unemployment through activities ranging from a film school and mobile library to a fashion brand and hip hop festival.

Photo 189

In the process of working with these fledgling enterprises and social projects, we were able to identify a number of common challenges that each of them faced and which our Social Enterprise Consultants set out to tackle during their 5 week placements. Achieving financial sustainability, developing an effective marketing strategy and creating more infrastructure within their projects were recurring themes that our Consultants came across. Helping the individuals and groups behind these projects to recognise themselves as social entrepreneurs, as well as realising the potential they have to bring about even more social impact through running sustainable enterprises that make positive change in their communities, was another key part of the process.

Photo 1

Our Consultants used different design thinking tools to help their Brazilian clients to look at their passion, mission and values in more depth, identify whether their activities truly addressed the social issues they were trying to tackle and to gain a better understanding of the customers and beneficiaries they were trying to reach. The next stage was then looking at their business models (or helping them to develop one), taking the first steps to developing a marketing strategy and looking at how they could use their skills, tools and resources more effectively.

Although the process was challenging at times with steep learning curves for both the Brazilian clients and our volunteer Consultants, it highlighted the passion and determination of the entrepreneurs and their appetite for longer term support to build on the learnings and experiences they had gained from the _SocialStarters programme.

EixoRio’s new EmpreendeRio programme will build on this by offering workshops and lectures that will teach aspiring Brazilian entrepreneurs about different aspects of setting up and running a business based on the key challenge areas highlighted during the first _SocialStarters programme. Participants will also have the opportunity to build their networks through an enterprise conference that will be set up by EmpreendeRio and through setting up and taking part in the own enterprise showcase.

Photo 188

_SocialStarters will be a key partner for EmpreendeRio, providing consultancy support to the Brazilian entrepreneurs through our next Immersion Programme which begins at the end of October. The entrepreneurs will get the opportunity to put the learnings they have gained in the EmpreendeRio workshops into practice working with their volunteer Consultant to tackle a specific challenge within their business or project.

We’re really excited about working with many of the fantastic individuals we supported on the last programme and are looking forward to working with some new faces too. Our collaboration with EmpreendeRio is going to mean we can connect with even more grassroots projects and enterprises in Rio and we can’t wait to see what new challenges and opportunities our Consultants will be working with in the months to come.

#JoinUs on a programme and volunteer with grassroots social entrepreneurs.

India – 24th October (6 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 Weeks) || Brazil – 19th March (6 weeks) To apply, send your email with a cover note to and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team!