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By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – British organization, _Social Starters, is celebrating its second successful six-week course in Rio de Janeiro with a showcase event at the Instituto Eixo Rio in Botafogo on Thursday, December 10th. The event will provide a chance for Cariocas (people from Rio) in the program to promote their businesses and ideas, and for others to meet, network and enjoy music and refreshments.

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Social Starters works with a number of small businesses and organizations involved in sport and art in Rio, photo courtesy of _Social Starters.

The _Social Starters organization was conceived as a way of bringing professional foreigners, who are often looking for a career-break or change, to less-developed countries to work with small, local business who are lacking some support and expertise and who stand to benefit from new ideas and mentoring.

As part of the immersive program in Rio, the volunteers come to live in the city for a month and a half and are paired with Cariocas who are running fledgling businesses or small organizations.  Together they are able to work on expanding or formalizing the companies and projects they are involved with.

At the same time the volunteers can engage with the world of social enterprise and take the time to consider future career possibilities. They are also able to use their professional skills in a creative way while getting to know Rio and learn Portuguese.

“The _SocialStarters program was an incredible opportunity to learn, experiment and collaborate with an inspiring group of people – from Rio and beyond. Not only was it a great way to kick-start my career change into social enterprise, but I can’t think of a better way to immerse yourself in the city for six weeks,” says Louise Thomson, who completed the program in July.

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Volunteers from abroad have the chance to attend workshops and learn Portuguese, as well as get involved with grassroot organizations, photo courtesy of _Social Starters.

Founded in Kenya by two British women, and having also launched in India and Sri Lanka, _Social Starters in Rio focuses on working with young people from favela communities, particularly those involved in artistic, cultural or sports projects.

This time the organization has been working with Livreteria Popular Jurasi Nascimento, a mobile library that Guilherme Roberto runs from the back of a tricycle in the Zinco favela. A fashion brand called Loja Snipper which uses its designs to challenge the portrayal of young black people in the media.

Maria Chantal promotes Afro-culture and black beauty with her screen-printed t-shirts. Rio Vida runs workshops, activities and training for residents of favelas and, ahead of the Paralympics in particular, URECE is working to train visually impaired people in five sports and connect them with sighted people through playing them.

Before the Olympics, in July 2016, _Social Starters is launching a new three-week Inspiration Program focusing on sports and community development. Earlier in the year the full six-week immersion course will run from March 19th and from June 4th. It costs £2,280 and includes 42 nights accommodation, program-related travel, phone credit, WIFI and expenses.

Tomorrow’s showcase begins at 5PM and is free to all. For more details, please visit the event’s Facebook page.

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