Egídio Guerra De Freitas
Fellow Since 2001
Empreendedores de Sonhos
This profile was prepared when Egídio Guerra De Freitas was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Egídio is creating networks of youth-run small businesses to combat the poverty, unemployment, and income disparity facing young people in the Brazilian Northeast. He is pairing disadvantaged youth and university students to solve a problem both groups face–namely, difficulty in securing their first jobs. His idea is to transform civil society organizations serving at-risk youth into management training centers and small business incubators. Each one of these new centers specializes in a sector of the economy that resonates with its community. The network of small businesses is organized into Social Clusters, thereby enabling them to use resources more efficiently. Reinforcing each other, the small businesses share technology, increase bargaining power with suppliers, access credit, and achieve economies of scale. Thus, they can compete with larger companies in the broader marketplace. This idea creates jobs and income for marginalized young people who might otherwise be prime targets and players in crime, prostitution, and drugs. With increased spending power and a deeper understanding of the social problems they face, these new entrepreneurs and employees become socially responsible consumers and active citizens. Their positive and productive role in society revitalizes the economy, reduces income disparities, and creates solutions for social change.