Zoica Bakirtzief

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1998
Sorri Sorocaba


This profile was prepared when Zoica Bakirtzief was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Zoica Bakirtzief is developing microenterprise training for those most excluded from the labor market, with the intention of franchising her model program throughout Brazil. In coordination with a network of labor rehabilitation centers for the disabled, Zoica's approach also creates and services a series of partnerships with local businesses, which serve as potential employers or investors for her clients; with public agencies that provide subsidies, training services and job-related data; and with university researchers to conduct market research. Together this forms an inexpensive, top-quality service to support start-up businesses for marginalized populations such as the disabled, the chronically sick, and those deprived of educational opportunities.
Zoica's initiative accomplishes two objectives. First, unlike existing training programs for this population, Zoica's program provides an independent source of income for participants to start their own businesses, rather than depending on the local labor market for employment opportunities. Second, it nourishes self-esteem and empowerment by offering a core set of business skills which are both important and transferable to other employment settings, even if the businesses do not succeed in the long-term or the participants choose to move into the formal sector.
Zoica has set up a new center in Sorocabo, São Paulo, which is part of an existing network of labor rehabilitation centers that offer first class vocational skills training for diseased and disabled persons. Called SORRI, these existing centers offer production line-based training in the context of an operating production facility as well as basic job training skills. Those trained at SORRI either seek jobs in the formal market or remain at SORRI's production facility as line workers. Zoica's center represents several major modifications to this model. She is broadening the training to include a range of self-employment skills, including small business management, basic bookkeeping and accounting, gaining access to credit, and marketing. While it differs significantly from
the current approach used by the SORRI centers, Zoica decided to launch her program in coordination with SORRI as a practical way of spreading her project and taking advantage of the reputation and resources the SORRI centers have developed over twenty years of service throughout Brazil.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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