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By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Saturday 17th December, one of Rio’s largest favela communities, Complexo do Alemão, saw the opening of a new co-working space for entrepreneurs. The inauguration of the space, named Casas Brotas (Sprout House) began at 4PM with a debate on innovation, technology, creativity and networks from local entrepreneurs.

Complexo do Alemão, Brazil, Brazil News, Rio de Janeiro, favela, entrepreneurship
Complexo do Alemão, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

Casas Brotas was created by a group of friends in the area, including local comedian and actor Marcel Magano. It hopes to provide a place for existing communication entrepreneurs to work from, as well as to serve as an incubator for aspiring and actual entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas.

Magano believes that establishing a formal space will encourage more interactions between Rio’s businesses and the city’s favelas, which have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. “Here in the favela there are many innovative people,” he said. “The idea is to develop advertising works and business projects within the Complexo do Alemão and also our own work, as well as creating partnerships.”

Magano and his fellow comedian Patrick Sonato among the entrepreneurs currently using the space. It is also shared by several local entrepreneurs, including youth technology education initiative GatoMÍDIA, favela-based community news sites Boca de Favela and AmareVê, and youth reading project Favelê.

GatoMÍDIA founder, Thamyra Thâmara, sees the space’s inauguration as a chance for favela-led creativity to gain recognition by the formal city. “Many creative projects produced within favelas are not embedded and legitimized in the city’s innovation circuit, as many of these circuits do not view popular demands as legitimate sources within the creative process,” she said. “We believe that the favela can point the way to building an intelligent, sustainable and connected city.”

Statistics from the Instituto Data Favela’s (Institute for Favela Data) 2015 research found that entrepreneurial aspirations are more common within favelas: approximately 55 percent of those living in favelas intend to start their own business over the next three years, compared to 23 percent of the general population.

With two-thirds of these intending to do so within their own favela, and more than half coming from a lower socioeconomic class, initiatives such as Casas Brotas could help launch economic development and empowerment of the city’s favelas like Complexo do Alemão.

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