Carlos Sampaio

Ashoka Fellow
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Fellow Since 2012


This profile was prepared when Carlos Sampaio was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
In a country with a persistent land distribution problem that goes back to its colonial days, Carlos is regulating land rights based on succession law for low-income families. Beginning with a process of legalizing their citizenship—gaining access to birth certificates and identification cards—Carlos’ methodology places significant value on discovering the history of the land, the families’ genealogy, and the geography, thus personalizing the process for each family. Through granting land rights, Carlos is providing much more than a deed to property. He is helping families gain access to public services such as water and sanitation, electricity, and postal services.

Kept at the margins of society, families without land rights often live in fear of eviction. Carlos’ initiative, Família Brasil, is enabling the process to gain land rights. Rather than solely relying on legal documents, evidence such as pictures, letters, and other elements connected to the history are used to prove ownership of the land. By doing so, he is not only recovering people’s legal identity and guaranteeing property rights, but also recovering their personal history and creating a sense of citizenship, belonging, and community stewardship.

Further, the framework that Carlos uses involves many different stakeholders. As he works with low-income families in rural and urban areas, he connects with lawyers, journalists, social workers, and government institutions. By bringing them into the process he is creating a more comprehensive and concrete system of gaining access to land rights and making his methodology accessible to all. Família Brasil has helped approximately 3,500 families in the state of Sao Paulo and is looking to spread throughout Brazil as well as other countries where securing land rights is a prevalent issue.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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