Reflections on my visit to Brazil’s Social Entrepreneurs Summit and their use of Technology
The power of technology to change people’s lives is undisputed, but you also need people who are determined enough to turn crazy ideas into reality. It’s rare enough to run across anyone like that, so I was very excited to meet 50 of them recently at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Rio de Janeiro. These were the finalists in one of SAP’s corporate social responsibility programs called SAP Expoentes, a joint partnership between SAP’s Emerging Entrepreneur Initiative (EEI) and Endeavor Brazil to help accelerate job creation and create sustainable business growth for emerging entrepreneurs.
One of the finalists is Fabio Bueno. He was standing in front of a vending machine one day looking at the selection of soft drinks when an idea flashed into his mind. A vending machine for books! In a country where people read less than two books on average per year because they can’t afford to buy them, Fabio’s idea is revolutionizing access to knowledge and literature. Besides positioning his vending machines at strategic subway locations to entice commuters, his philosophy is that people should pay what they can afford. Since he buys by the bulk, he makes a profit on each book even if people only pay one buck apiece. His company 24X7 is now equipping the vending machines with telemetry to help track inventory and stock the machines to provide better service to customers.
Another great story: Edivan Costa, a man from humble beginnings who used to work as an errand boy for a law firm, learned early on that a well-defined process is key to cutting through bureacratic red tape. Seeing how costly and difficult it is to register a business in Brazil – the process is one of the most cumbersome in the world – he saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Today, his company SEDI helps people and businesses navigate quickly and legally through Brazil’s bureaucratic registration system and also helps combat inefficiency and corruption. Together with major clients, Edivan has also helped create more than 6,000 jobs in the last few years.
Or take the story of Vanessa Vilela whose company Kapeh produces cosmetics made from coffee beans. A biochemist with a vision to be a role model for other women, Vanessa is aspiring to be an entrepreneur, but she needs mentorship and support to help grow her business commercially in a sustainable way.
According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) survey, we need to create more than 500 million new jobs globally by 2020 in order to provide career opportunities for the currently unemployed as well as young people who will join the workforce. The bulk of this challenge falls on countries in the developing markets such as Brazil and India.
Through Endeavor and SAP’s EEI, people like Vanessa, Edivan and Fabio will gain access to mentors who can help them develop a sustainable growth plan that leverages technology to improve people’s lives and create jobs. For example, many of them are daunted by big data volumes or figuring out how to develop the right mobile strategy. This is where people like myself and other experts at SAP can help. Juliano Seabra, MD of Endeavor Brazil, asked me to answer some key questions about technology that are top of mind for startups: What is big data? How can it be applied to startups? How is data revolutionizing our world? Watch the above video to find out.
As the Executive Sponsor on Technology Solutions for this program, I am really excited about sharing my knowledge and network to help these innovative folks and others like them to be successful.