The 55-year-old entrepreneur Rosana Ortiz, owner of a restaurant in Francisco Morato (SP), saw her business interrupted at the beginning of the pandemic. "We were lost and disoriented, just like the rest of the world". With the perspective of closing the restaurant and dismissing its employees, Rosana was again motivated by participating in the project Healthy People and Business, which consolidated six food safety centers in communities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. She is part of a group of 23 entrepreneurs, besides 17 people involved in the production and delivery of meals to vulnerable populations attended by the project, promoted by the partnership between the Neoenergia Institute and the Integrated Center for Studies and Sustainable Development Programs (CIEDS).
Since May, the owners of restaurants and local cooperatives have already distributed together more than 30 thousand meals in the communities of Maré, São Gonçalo and Coqueiro, in Rio de Janeiro, and Caieiras, Franco da Rocha and Francisco Morato, in São Paulo, keeping their workers and hiring new ones, generating income and supporting the fight against hunger.
The project also aims to better understand the profile of the beneficiaries of the meals and the entrepreneurs of the communities of large urban centers - an economy that moves more than R$ 120 million, annually, according to the Pesquisa Economia das Favelas (a survey to evaluate the economy of the slum areas), conducted by the Institutos Data Favela e Locomotiva, in January 2020.
"At the beginning of the isolation, we redirected our actions, understanding the importance of strengthening the third sector, heavily impacted by the pandemic. We entered this project with CIEDS, which was already our partner in another initiative, and we started to act on two necessary fronts: fighting the hunger of the most vulnerable and strengthening the economy and entrepreneurship in these communities", says Renata Chagas, Neoenergia Institute Executive Director.
Healthy People and Business brought new horizons, not only to business, but allowed restaurant workers and entrepreneurs to contribute and get closer to their communities. "It's too pleasant to see the joy of the families benefited by the help. I am very grateful for the opportunity, because I was having a hard time closing my accounts, the debts only increased. My MEI (Individual Micro Entrepreneur) was late, and now I managed to get organized. It was a fundamental help both for me and for five other people who work with me. People who also had to quit their jobs and are now happy and grateful," says Deise Lúcia Oliveira Rosa, 47, an entrepreneur from the Salgueiro community in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro.
Based on a survey conducted with the participants, the project identified the profile of the entrepreneurs: all of them had already been entrepreneuring for more than two years in their communities; the great majority, 85%, are women and about 73% had their business interrupted due to the pandemic, the initiative being their main source of income at the moment. "The data helped us to build joint solutions with entrepreneurs, making our mentories more assertive in new business development, marketing, spending control, food production, pricing and management, supporting them in the evolution of their business, now and after the pandemic," says José Claudio Barros, CIEDS Community Engagement Manager.
For Oswaldo Favero, 38, owner of Sabor do Chefe restaurant in Caieiras (SP), the meals kill the hunger, but also bring hope. "We are motivated to cook for those who need it so much and we are aware of the importance of organizing ourselves as a civil society to help. During the preparation, we put our commitment and love to set up a menu with decent meals," he says.
Healthy People and Business foresees the distribution of 54 thousand meals until November, in the six food security centers, benefiting 435 people.
Its purpose is to foster the development of socio-environmental actions in the areas in which Neoenergia, its maintainer, operates, through the support to society in the management and promotion of selected projects, reinforcing the company's brand and commitment to the development of local culture and economies.
For the 2018 to 2022 cycle, the challenge of the Neoenergia Institute is to collaborate directly with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established by the UN. The main objectives are to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of the most vulnerable people and the commitment to sustainable development, through the realization and support of projects within the following pillars: Training and Research, Biodiversity and Climate Change, Art and Culture, Social Action and Institutional Collaboration, which seeks alliances to achieve the SDGs.
Integrated Center for Studies and Sustainable Development Programs - CIEDS promotes social solutions that generate more income, more health, better education, more confidence in the future and, above all, prosperity. We believe that each person has the knowledge and potential to change their lives and communities. For more than twenty years we have achieved results that have changed the lives of thousands of people, creating opportunities for those who need it most. We did all this by building networks of strategic partners committed to a better Brazil for all.
This initiative is part of the Iberdrola group answer to Coronavirus.