High taxes and red tape make the business environment rather hostile in Brazil. Small businesses pop up and fail at an almost dizzying pace, unable to cope with the fees and often excessive regulation. Large corporations and international investors tend to fare better, but only if they take the long view on returns. I’ve written before about this situation in What Keeps Brazil Back, so no point going into it again here.
With all of the above in view, it made me wonder if or how social entrepreneurs could ever get a foothold in the country. Doing good for the social good is a high-minded ideal that can crash pretty hard against the jagged, stony reality of adverse tax and business codes. Looking around, I found a shining example of a successful social entrepreneur in Brazil: Fábio Rosa.
Looking at the rural area of southern Brazil where he grew up he saw clearly that the poor were moving rapidly to the cities not because the quality of life there was so much better, but because they couldn’t make a living outside of the cities. One of the major hindrances to life in the country was the lack of electricity. Incredibly, a great many people in Brazil’s rural areas have no access to the electrical grid. In the eyes of the private energy concerns, it simply isn’t profitable enough to invest in building and maintaining the needed infrastructure over large areas for a relatively small population.
Check out the slide presentation below for more, as well as the two articles linked at the bottom of this post. If you understand Portuguese then the IDEAAS site is worth a look. It’s the site of the organization Rosa leads in promoting sustainable development.
Next week I’ll bring more on Mr. Rosa and the projects he has led to improve the lives of rural Brazilians.
Fabio Rosa: The Sun Shines For All (youthxchange)
A Visit to IDEAAS: Clean Energy Solutions for Brazil’s Poor (NextBillion.net)
Dealing with Brazil’s Red Tape (IgneousQuill.org)