In Brazil where religious freedom is generally well-protected, Brazilians of African descent still face discrimination for their appearance and beliefs, including their religious beliefs. But an NGO, the Afro-Brazilian Incubator, is working to fight this discrimination by promoting entrepreneurship among Afro-Brazilians. The hope is that greater economic integration for Afro-Brazilians will lead to greater social and religious acceptance for them as well.
First brought to Brazil hundreds of years ago as slaves, Afro-Brazilians have long faced great discrimination, based on race, religion and other factors. Their plight gained prominence during the run up to the recent World Cup (which was hosted by Brazil), when many of the country’s leading black soccer players were subjected to racial and other harassment. These incidents caused Brazil’s president to declare the 2014 World Cup the “anti-racism World Cup.”
In an effort to fight the discrimination faced by Afro-Brazilians and those who practice Afro-religions,
the Incubator offers a host of free services for aspiring entrepreneurs, ranging from management training to assistance with marketing and accounting. It currently supports over 1,000 businesses in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, and works in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
Many newly successful businesspeople credit the Afro-Brazilian Incubator with their success. Nildilene, for instance, was able to use business advice and management skills provided by the Incubator to help create a food service business that now employs nine other people. The fact that she came from a poor family and was only able to finish elementary school did not stand in the way of her becoming a successful businesswoman.
* This is the fourth in a series of case studies highlighting how companies – in their core business activities – can help reduce religious and cultural tensions, increase social understanding, and promote peace. This case study does not imply an endorsement of these companies or their products or services. The Religious Freedom & Business Foundation has no tie to the companies profiled.
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