Social Entrepreneurism, The Launch of Ashoka Changemakers in Brazil and the film Who Cares?

Maria and I were guests last night of Ashoka, the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs founded in 1980 by Bill Drayton, and which now has around 3,000 Ashoka Fellows worldwide. While Ashoka have of course been active in Brazil over many years, last night was the launch of the Brazilian Ashoka Support Network, a group of prominent business entrepreneurs around the world that support Ashoka and the Fellow Social Entrepreneurs to achieve their goals.

Quem se ImportaDuring this event the 2012 Brazilian feature length documentary Quem se Importa (Who Cares) was shown. This very emotional, evocative and positive film, directed by Mara Mourão and narrated by Rodrigo Santoro, is about people changing the world for the better through social entrepreneurism, and features the following inspirational people:

Muhammad Yunus -creator of microcredit –

Bill Drayton – counder of  Ashoka –

Jehane Noujaim – cinema for peace –

John Mighton – mathematics and self-esteem in teeenagers –;

Premal Shah – internet microcredit –

Joaquín Leguía – ground for children –

Isaac Durojaiye – toilets for Nigéria –

Joaquim Melo – community banking –

Eugenio Scannavino – health and happiness in the Amazon –

Oscar Rivas – restoring degraded areas –

Dener Giovanini – fighting against animal trafficking –

Vera Cordeiro – improving family life –

Mary Gordon – empathy in schools –

Wellington Nogueira – clowns in hospitals –

Karen Tse – ending torture –

Rodrigo Baggio – IT for everyone –

Al Etmanski – the end of isolation –

Bart Weetjens – rats which save lives –

Mara Mourão, Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino

Mara Mourão, Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino

After the film was shown, there was a question and answer session with Mara Mourão, and three of the Brazilian changemakers featured in the film: Joaquim Melo, Vera Cordeiro and Eugênio Scannavino. They were all clearly passionate speakers, sharing further insights about both the challenges and great rewards of their work.

Joaquim Melo for example spoke of his frustrations of the way in which the Central Bank of Brazil clamped down heavily on his efforts to set up small community banks to help with the re-urbanization of the neighbourhood Conjunto Palmeira in Fortaleza, a city in the north of Brazil. He said a great quote which was that the great Brazilian business schools and universities had not come up with this as an idea, the idea had emerged in the shanty town of Conjunto Palmeira.

In the Q and A session I asked Mara what she thought the most important aspect of the film was in terms of inspiring people here in Brazil. She answered that the first point was we have to put an end to illiteracy about social entrepreneurship inside schools in Brazil, and that she hoped her film could teach children and young adults about the notion of social entrepreneurism. There was an interesting part of the film which pointed out that if a child was struggling with say maths or language, the parents would be immediately concerned. But what if the child was not becoming a changemaker? The parents would not even notice. An interesting provocation certainly.

Daniela Carvalho, Zoraide Stark and Maria Moraes Robinson

Daniela Carvalho, Zoraide Stark and Maria Moraes Robinson

Maria and I were joined last night with our good friends Daniela Carvalho and Zoraide Stark who are the founders of Empower – Investing in Women. Empower are a partner of Ashoka here in Brasil, and they are doing some amazing work supporting female entrepreneurs from all walks of life, be they women who require mentoring and training to overcome the challenges of working in extremely male dominated business environments such as banking and IT, as well as also having social programmes to help female entrepreneurs from low-income families develop and grow sustainable businesses.

Qualquer pessoa pode ser um empreendedor social, não é nenhuma bênção divina, você não toma um comprimido para virar um empreendedor social. Você simplesmente se conscientiza do seu poder de transformação.

As one of the quotes from the film says, anyone can be a social entrepreneur. It is not a divine blessing, and you do not have to take a pill to become one. You simply have to be aware of your power of transformation.

Quem se Importa is an excellent film, highly inspirational and one I can certainly recommend for anyone with an interest in social entrepreneurism. I wish the Ashoka team in Brazil the very best of success. As I always say on my blog, Brazil does have many amazing people doing remarkable projects under extremely challenging circumstances, and each and every one deserves huge recognition and celebration of their great efforts and achievements.


Quem se Importa – the site of the film where you can order a copy of the DVD

Ashoka Brasil

Empower – Investing in Women


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