Making Small Business Entrepreneurship Accessible to All in Brazil

Fernando Gameleira, Centro's Representative in Brazil and some of the small business entrepreneurs he has trained in Rio de Janeiro.

Fernando Gameleira, Centro's Representative in Brazil and some of the small business entrepreneurs he has trained in Rio de Janeiro.

Author: Fernando Gameleira

Last summer, I met Naldo Peliks in my home city, Rio de Janeiro. He introduced himself as Centro Community Partners (Centro), Chief of Operations and spoke with great candor and genuine enthusiasm about the mobile app they had developed to help aspiring and current small business owners write business plans. As someone who has worked almost exclusively in the field of entrepreneurship development for decades, he definitely had my ears.

Brazil is the largest country in South America and some say we are entrepreneurial by nature. A significant number of the country's 200 million habitants are constantly developing entrepreneurial activities, both formally and informally. We also speak Portuguese, which makes the country particularly unique in the region.

Centro wanted help testing their Basic Entrepreneurship Program in Brazil, and taking the first steps to officially partner with organizations working with small business entrepreneurs. I of course said yes, and in a matter of a week of meetings with other local consultants and small business specialists, Centro began working with:

  • Sebrae – the largest Brazilian non-profit organization that supports entrepreneurs through more than 700 branches across the country, and
  • CDL Niterói – the chamber that represents retail entrepreneurs in Niterói, the city across the Guanabara Bay of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The pilot group started with 12 people, most of whom were local women working with handcrafted goods and services. As an entrepreneur myself and behavioral trainer – I was in charge of this first pilot workshop, and was left in awe with the immediate impact the entrepreneurs conveyed:

This workshop was a true turning point in my life. I had just been let go of my engineering job and I was so grateful for the supportive and stimulating environment I found in class. All the participants had different backgrounds and life stories, however, we shared a common objective: to learn how to create and build something from scratch. A short two months after finishing my business plan, I created my company “Sommos Consulting” and now feel closer to making my dream and objectives come true.
— Maria Jose Feres

Another woman in the pilot program who had lived in New York for more than two decades before returning to Brazil and opening her own vegan food business, said:

It is very difficult for a creative person to engage with the financial part of a business. But, someone has to do, and as a business owner, I understood no one is better suited than me. Now, I’m finding out how to finally monetize my vegan food business, and save more animals. It is a long and laborious process, but when you aim to save lives, everything becomes just a few steps away.
— Rosana Ferraz

Some entrepreneurs shared how attending the workshop helped them change their minds or course-correct the direction of their business. This happened to Lucia, a journalist who decided to become a creative chocolatier: 

When I started the workshop all I had in mind was to write my business plan to launch “Chocolate de Reis.” But after a few classes and going through the Business Planning App’s intuitive method, I was able to reflect on my previous experience as a scientific journalist. Writing my Mission, Vision and Values helped me understand why “Chocolate de Reis” exists and helped me view my business as a creative business, no matter what I develop. The app also helped me realize the complexities of finance, production and marketing analysis. Without the app and the workshop, I’m sure I would have never understood such concepts.
— Lucia Torres

Leila, an English Teacher and a Tour Guide decided to focus her new tourism business, “Conhecendo Mais,” on the cultural traits of low income communities in Rio de Janeiro. Here is a little bit of her business outlook after the workshop: 

I decided to attend the workshop and write my business plan mostly because I wanted to make more money. After the eighth meeting, I understood how everything in business is connected. I changed so many aspects of my company - from the way I get in touch with my costumers, to the way I price my services, to adding more products and services to my portfolio.
— Leila Gravano

Lastly, one of the most enthusiastic participants was Sandra, the owner of Amazonia Rio Consulting. She said that sharing experiences with the other participants and the instructor made a real difference for her - the ability to help others was an inspiration to consolidate the support network that resulted from the workshop.

I’m very grateful to Sebrae and Centro Community Partners for investing in us. I’m sure we will all give back to our community by being better and more successful entrepreneurs and by not losing focus on the sustainability of our businesses.
— Sandra Barbosa

I am personally thrilled to have found Centro as well, and can't wait to consolidate our nationwide partnership to use the Basic Entrepreneurship Education Suite across Brazil.