Fellow Since 2001
ORGAPE(Organização de Apoio aos Pequenos Empreendimentos do
This profile was prepared when Francisco de Oliveira Rebouças Neto was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Neto is promoting regional economic and social development by establishing locally administered microlending and professional training services to stimulate new businesses. He is helping small municipalities, once dependent on extractive industries that have since disappeared, to maximize their most valuable resources–namely, their citizens. In these towns, which are undergoing economic devastation because of high unemployment, the majority of individuals who are poor, unemployed or undereducated have no access to capital or training for starting small businesses. Neto founded ORGAPE-CE (the Organization to Support the Small Enterprises of Ceará State) to help individuals, their families, and communities create new income generating opportunities. In each of the towns, Neto establishes a board of community members, trains local loan agents, and provides support to loan recipients as they move through a process from subsistence to consolidation, expansion, and profit-making. ORGAPE-CE provides a package of value-added services to ensure the success of the entrepreneur and the revival of the community's economy. The strength of the model is not merely the method of lending and client support. Neto links the small enterprises so they can exchange goods and services throughout the supply chain. Neto then builds partnerships with businesses, governments, and civil society organizations to increase the overall level of social and economic investment in the region. Neto is taking ORGAPE-CE from one municipality to another, creating a network of small cities that are investing in their citizens while stimulating their local economies. Through this approach, Neto is promoting the creation of an active and dynamic economy in a once stagnant and declining region.