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Author's profile photo Olena Demeter

Know What You Want…

“Know what you want and study hard” is a recipe of success for Brazilian restaurant manager Adriano Gomes, who has been homeless, and is now leading the unique restaurant Reciclo, which is equipped with fancy art installations made from recyclable materials. ASMARE, the association of catadores, played a big role on his way to success. Catadores is a term used for professionals in Brazil, who collect garbage going from street to street, separating recyclable
materials out of collected trash, selling them for enough money to and earn a living. Meanwhile, the association has expanded its services and product offerings. In addition to its waste and recycling facilities in Belo Horizonte, it has an art studio, a wood workshop and the restaurant Reciclo. The associates make artwork out of recyclable materials and provide an end-to-end waste collection and recycling service for sustainable company events.

I had a chance to talk to Adriano during the SAP Social Sabbatical program, which took place in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in July 2012, when SAP colleagues from all over the world came together to make a change for three Brazilian NGOs. The goals for our assignments were to build a communication plan for ASMARE, to optimize a supply chain for the handicraft artisans association Maos de Minas and to create an HR strategy for apprenticeship and employment center Rede Cidade.

Prior to the actual project in Brazil our team received training about corporate social responsibility, economic growth in emerging markets, Brazilian culture and business and the power of social media so that we were well prepared for an unusual projects in a foreign country. Training sessions, as well as the first customer contacts, were conducted via virtual meetings with CDC Development Solutions and SAP Corporate Social Responsibility.

The smaller team setups factored in cultural diversity as well as the various expertise areas of the participants. Working as a Product Owner in the Development, it was a valuable experience for me to work on the deliverables with my team mates Evan Welsh from the Global Communications and Jan Seger from Education Design. From the first day of our venture in Brazil the calendar was fully booked with seminars and meetings with and about our customer ASMARE, its goals and organizational setup, visits to the waste and recycling facility and interviews with catadores and external audiences.


Artwork created by catadores out of recycled materials, including paper, cans, cardboard and plastic bottles. The artwork is offered for sale at the restaurant Reciclo. The restaurant space, which spreads over two floors, can be also rented for company and private events.


Catador at work, pulling a heavy cart packed with the collected materials to the waste and recycling facility. 


Catadora separating collected materials. All phases are strictly organized at the waste and recycling facility Contorno: separation, wrapping and weighing.


Meeting with Dona Geralda, who founded ASMARE in 1990. She gave us insights into the history of the organization. ASMARE has fought for the recognition of catadores as professionals and has received numerous awards for its efforts to integrate people into society and for its active role in sustainability.


Flávia, the management coordinator for ASMARE, presented us the executive board of the organization, which consists of finance, infrastructure, health, education, environment, media and religion committees.


Maurício, an artisan and general assistant at ASMARE, conducted an art workshop for our team, sharing a methodology REDECOR for creating a beautiful art work from used plastic bottles.


Meeting with professor Vanderlei from Fundação Dom Cabral, one the world’s best business schools. The meeting took place in the office at Reciclo. The office space was renovated and equipped for the SAP Social Sabbatical team and will be used for future project work.


To get a solid data base about the opinions of the organization from external sources we conducted a series of interviews with different target groups, including taxi drivers, policemen, lawyers, business professionals and students.


Adriano, who has been homeless, now manages Reciclo. Proud to lead an extraordinary restaurant and see guests come in and get excited about Reciclo. Adriano gets his inspiration and energy from working at the restaurant.


All meetings and interviews were synchronously translated from Portuguese into English and vice versa by our wonderful translator Isabella. All of our deliverables are available in both languages, enabling also international audiences to learn about ASMARE.

After two weeks of a deep dive into the life of the organization we were able to make an extensive analysis of their current communications strategy, identify gaps and opportunities and provide recommendations for the new communications plan, including deliverables. Flávia and Mauricio, were impressed by our presentation and deliverables exclaiming, “We love your logo…!”, “We will print out your materials and show them to ALL catadores!”, “All this is much more than we had expected!”. A short time after the meeting we received guidance on which topics we should focus our work over the following two weeks, including developing a new logo, a company profile, a web site design and a newsletter.


Overview of our deliverables.

The SAP Social Sabbatical was a very special, valuable and enriching experience for me. It was my first time working for an NGO, an organization, whose goal is to rescue people from poverty, even sometimes from drugs and criminality, and give them a chance for a better life. I am proud and happy to have contributed to its mission. When Flávia said that Brazilian people fall in love easily and she wished to have me as a sister, I recognized that I had already fallen in love with Brazilian people and its country. Thank you for the incredible time to André Wagner, Brandon Soloski, Brittany Lothe, Daniel Elliott, Evan Welsh, Flávia Gonzaga, Heike Kolar, Isabella Bretz, Jan Seger, Judith Hoffman, Julian Droescher, Juliana Hauck, Maurício Soares, Michael Wachter, Monika Bloching, Sabine Herzberg and Tijs Van Lier.

Useful links


SAP Social Sabbatical in Brazil

Blogs about SAP Social Sabbatical: Belo Bunch Ready to Make an Impact in Brazil

SAP Introduces Social Sabbatical Program to Foster Leadership Development

Social-Sabbatical: SAP fördert eigenen Nachwuchs und unterstützt Entwicklung in Schwellenländern
SAP Social Sabbatical: A New Model for Leadership Development and Social Impact

SAP Social Sabbatical: Belo Bunch Ready to Make an Impact in Brazil

SAP Announces the Social Sabbatical 


Blogs about SAP Social Sabbatical from my Belo Bunch team mates

No, Thank You. I Am Working: Brazil’s Hands-On Environmental Solution

Turning Trash Into Treasure 

Recycling Lives: Redemption Amid the Rubbish

Finding a Future in a Favela

Imagination and Hard Work Take Flight for Small Business Owners in Minas Gerais Brazil

“Honking” for the Budding Entrepreneur! 

Funny Business Lesson – An Oxymoron? Not at Rede Cidadã.

Navigating the Human Resources Landscape: How to Increase Employee Recognition?

Interview on SWR Radio – Sozialer Einsatz im Ausland

Twitter – @olenademeter

Video Catadores in Rio de Janeiro


CDC Development Solutions

Fundação Dom Cabral

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      Author's profile photo Judith Hoffman
      Judith Hoffman

      Hi Lena - Wonderful blog and pictures!  You really provided a great overview of the program and your project - Thank you!!