By Chesney Hearst, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Outside investors are increasingly entering pacified favela communities ready to do business, and a new program called “Comércio Legal” (Legal Trade) is helping. In July, São Carlos and Macacos held an “afternoon of entrepreneurship”, where representatives from financial institutions, micro-entrepreneurs and local business people gathered together to discuss future possible economic growth through incentives and lines of credit.
According to the president of the Commercial Association of Macacos, Flávio Duarte, the idea to promote a round of business credit arose when local merchants realized the area known as “shopinho” had potential for restaurants and shopping.
“A round of credit allows local merchants to improve the quality of their services and invest in the welfare of clients. I believe that these improvements can attract consumers and tourists from outside,” said Duarte.
This was one of many stories of increased focus on commercial interests in pacified favelas, with the UPPs and police presence providing a foundation of security for businesses to thrive, and pay taxes. Community members are learning new ways to do business, while outside investors and groups are finding it beneficial to help them establish and accomplish their goals.
When asked if the establishment of UPPs in favela communities helps businesses in the area, Safety Inn Rio hoste owner Sergio Ferrez responded enthusiastically, “Definitely!”
Ferrez added that “The idea of a ’24-hour-peace-making police patrol’ has changed the approach in which policemen are no more feared but seen as an ally for the good!”
Its name alone implying Ferrez’s goal of showcasing what he says is “the safest place to be in Rio nowadays”. Thus illustrating that pacification efforts can have positive effects for many businesses in the affected communities.
Now with the room to bloom and aspiring entrepreneurs eager to enter, the residents are receiving advise on how to navigate through their new business opportunities. Groups like SEBRAE/RJ, who were present at the Sao Carlos and Macacos event, hold workshops about financial planning and investment opportunities.
With the residents learning new skills and better means to implement them, they improve their chances of future entrepreneurship and employment. They also gain access to business channels that may have been previously unknown to them.
For the companies and outside investors there is also the benefit of access to new markets and the chance to help others through education and monetary stimulus. The recent story of a five star hotel being developed in Vidigal was a big sign of changes to come.
The UPP programs, established in 2008, are relatively young and in their short history have faced several bumps in the road already. However with the successful pacification of favelas, the inclusion of outside interests and investments is a new and welcome phenomenon.