January 26, 2022
- There are 30 million micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)in Brazil, accounting for 30 percent of the country’s GDP.
- Registered MSMEs provide over 50 percent of all jobs in the formal sector and between January-October 2021, almost 73% of formal jobs created in Brazil were in small businesses.
- Despite the pandemic’s debilitating effect on the economy, 2.6 million entrepreneurs established new businesses in 2020 (8.4% increase), and the innovation sector received a record $9.4 billion in investments in 2021.
- However, Brazilian entrepreneurs, startups, and MSMEs continue to face unique challenges and bottlenecks that threaten their longevity: low access to finance, social and cultural barriers – especially for women and minority-owned businesses – and a lack of training, capacity building and networking opportunities.
- U.S. Mission Brazil supports programs that address those challenges and enable, innovation and increased inclusion in the sector. Strengthening entrepreneurship and small businesses leads to job creation and economic growth in Brazil and creates opportunities for increased economic cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil.
Major U.S. Government Initiatives and Programs conducted in 2021 [More detailed information can be found in dedicated sections]
- AWE 1.0. – helps women entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses, and launched its first edition in January 2021, with 90 women entrepreneurs across Brazil. The closing in April 2021 included an online pitch competition for seed funding. Testimony from pitch competition winners and other participants can be found in the program’s website and here.
- YLAI – is an annual program for young social and economic entrepreneurs to help them build their leadership and entrepreneurship skills. The 2021 edition took place virtually and included 17 Fellows from Brazil among the participants from across Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.
- RME Digitaliza – Embassy Brasilia facilitated an eight-week training course for 122 Brazilian women entrepreneurs on adopting and utilizing digital tools and technologies to grow their businesses.
- FemaleScale – Consulate Sao Paulo provided acceleration and incubation services to 10 women-led startups and top performers received seed capital to invest in their businesses.
- SBDC Project – Embassy Brasilia is coordinating a technical cooperation agreement between SEBRAE and the OAS to implement the U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) methodology that will measure economic impact via Brazil’s SME sector.
- USAID’s AMAZ Aceleradora de Impacto – the first impact accelerator dedicated to the Amazon region, which counted with the participation of over 50 Amazonian organizations in 2021.
Currently Running Entrepreneurship Programs
Public Diplomacy Team-directed programs:
Academy for Women Entrepreneurship
- AWE is an online business education program that provides women entrepreneurs with skills, resources, and networks needed to scale and grow successful businesses. It covers topics of business management, marketing, and financing under the coordination and support of experienced facilitators and successful mentors.
- AWE has already benefited more than 7,000 women in over 50 countries, including 180 in Brazil, by promoting lasting business growth.
- Each edition of AWE-Brazil has included 90 women entrepreneurs from all regions of the country and diverse business sectors.
- AWE-Brazil is an initiative of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates implemented by Grupo +Unidos and with pedagogical support from Instituto Somos Todas Marias.
- The current edition, AWE 2.0. is ongoing and will close in April 2022 with an in-person event in Sao Paulo, including a trade fair and pitch competition for seed funding.
- The next edition, AWE 3.0, is expected to open for applications in early 2023.
Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative
- Every year, YLAI takes 20 young Brazilian entrepreneurs, along with a total of 280 counterparts from across the region on a four-week exchange in the United States to expand their leadership and entrepreneurship skills.
- Since 2015, more than 1,000 young entrepreneurs, including 77 from Brazil, have received the tools, training, resources, and networking opportunities to empower them and strengthen their ability to promote innovative ideas and effectively contribute to the social and economic development of their communities.
Economic Team-directed programs:
- With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise (POWER) Initiative, the U.S. Embassy Brasilia partnered with local NGO Rede Mulher Empreendedora and U.S. multinational company Amazon to provide training and mentoring services to 122 women entrepreneurs on adopting digital tools and technology to better manage their businesses.
- The 8-week training covered critical business tools. successful business models, value propositions, digital payments, time management, telling and selling a narrative, and leadership self-awareness.
- 96 percent of participants reported improved management of their businesses, 86 percent digitalized their businesses, and 68 percent reported an increase in revenues as a direct result of the program.
- RME Digitaliza also gave participants the opportunity to connect with Amazon and explore opportunities to sell their products domestically and internationally.
- The U.S. Consulate in Sao Paulo implemented a POWER-funded program with local partners Distrito, Brazil’s largest innovation hub, and B2Mamy, a company that connects mothers to the innovation market and technology resources.
- The three-month acceleration program provided strategic support to ten early-stage women-led technology startups in Brazil.
- At the end of this program, participants competed in a “demo-day” pitch session for seed capital, with the top three winners taking home combined R$50,000 to invest in their respective ventures.
- In 2022, Brazil’s SME industry group SEBRAE will enter into a technical cooperation agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to adopt the U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) methodology via implementing partner University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA).
- Once fully implemented, the model will significantly increase the effectiveness of SEBRAE’s customer service centers and programs in generating jobs and measuring broader economic impact, helping to address sustainability issues facing many Brazilian MSMEs.
- USAID has been supporting private sector engagement, development and investment in Brazil, specifically in the Amazon region since 2014, including the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA).
- Among PPA’s initiatives, the PPA Acceleration Program specifically targets Amazonian startups, innovation and entrepreneurship, with a focus on Amazonian food production, cosmetics, sustainable extractive industry, and e-commerce platforms. Since 2018 it has invested around US$2 million in startups, $1.5 million of which is “patient capital”.
- More than 50 Amazonian organizations currently participate, and the program was successfully “spun off” and relaunched in April 2021 by the local NGO IDESAM as AMAZ Aceleradora de Impacto, the first impact accelerator dedicated to the Amazon region.
- In addition to this business acceleration initiative, USAID also supports the Sitawi Crowdlending Platform and the Amazon Biodiversity Fund (ABF) Brazil, which were recognized for their impact by Environmental Finance.
- In 2021, the Sitawi Crowdlending Platform mobilized approximately $450,000 by 275 individual investors, while private sector members of the PPA mobilized an additional $344,000. The funding supports biodiversity-friendly businesses led by entrepreneurs focused on the Brazilian Amazon.
- The ABF is a Brazilian impact investment fund that aims to raise $60 million in private capital to invest in sustainable businesses in the Amazon before the end of 2022.
- The $60 million will be funded from $15 million seed investment from Alliance of Biodiversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Fund’s anchor investor plus an expected $45 million to be raised from private sector investors. USAID helped reduce the financial risk through a 50% loan guarantee.