By Lauren Hogan, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Oficina de Negocinhos (which translates roughly to Little Business Workshop) program began at the end of 2013 and is starting to gain attention, especially among school principals and teachers who want to teach the course to their own students. The program is designed to teach entrepreneurial concepts and fundamentals, to young students of all social-economic backgrounds.
“The first question we ask of our students is what is their dream,” says Ana Biavatti owner and director of Oficina de Negocinhos, a school which works to spread entrepreneurial culture to all, from kids to parents to teachers.
“What we try to pass to the kids and to the teachers is a less technical, more human concept of entrepreneurship, where we have a dream, a vision… we trace a plan to reach this dream,” she continues. “Our intention is to make people understand that entrepreneurship is a human, everyday life phenomena and not a technical skill. A dream plus endeavor plus value equals entrepreneurship.”
The program, which cultivates both economic transformation and social inclusion, uses a variety of techniques to develop skills and generate ideas. Along with teaching values like ethics, responsibility and leadership through workshops and dynamic games, the courses also instill concepts of finance, sustainability and negotiation. By the time the mini-entrepreneurs finish the course, they have concocted a product, selected the name of the business and created their own mini-business plan.
While those interested are invited to come and take classes in one of two private rooms in Ipanema and Catete, or online, the program has also been developed so that it can be sold to private schools and companies for them to teach as well.
Biavatti says the Train the Trainer program, in which students learn how to teach the course to others, is one of their most popular, with requests coming from states as far as Minas Gerais, and from countries Cabo Verde and Angola.
Oficina de Negocinhos is also starting to expand to NGOs, most recently working with a sixth grade class at Solar Meninos de Luz, a group that offers full-time multidisciplinary education to the kids of Cantagalo, Pavao and Pavaozinho. For these programs, they look for sponsors willing to offer the course as a gift. R$2,500 pays for all the materials, t-shirts, photos and videos to a group of 25 to 30 kids.
Regardless of age or background however, one of the biggest positives about the program is that each individual has the freedom and a platform to express their originality in a direction of financial independence. “The Brazilian Dream has always been to apply for a public job, with stability and securities that you don’t have when you open your own business,” says Biavatti.
“I believe this is changing – Brazilians are natural entrepreneurs, even if they don’t know or understand the concept very well. It’s something we have in the blood: during a crisis, we create!”