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Brazil’s Black Silicon Valley could be a center of innovation in Latin America – TechCrunch




Paulo Rogrio Nunes Contributor

Paulo is a co-founder of Vale do Dend (Dende Valley) and AFAR Ventures, a global diversity and inclusive creative and consulting agency that identifies opportunities for multinational brands, companies and investors in emerging markets.

Tara Saber Collier Contributor

Tara Sabre Collier is an early impact investor with over 15 years of experience at the crossroads of economic development, social entrepreneurship and impact investing. She is a visiting scholar at Oxford University, teaching and writing about impact investing, diversity and equity.

Over the last five years, Brazil has witnessed a startup boom.

Traditionally the major startup hubs in the country were São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, but now local startups with their own prosperous waves of new cities, such as Recife with the Porto Digital Hub and Florianopolis with the ecosystem. We are building an ecosystem. Recently, “Black Silicon Valley” has begun to take shape in Salvador Dabaia.

While finance and media are usually concentrated in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, the 3 million city of Bahia, is considered one of the cultural centers of Brazil.

With an 84% Afro-Brazilian population, the city’s history, music, cuisine and culture have deep, rich and visible roots in Africa. The state of Bahia is about the same size as France and has a population of 15 million. Given that almost every major Brazilian cultural patriot has roots here, from samba and capoeira to delicacies from different regions, the creative heritage of bias is very clear.

Many people are unaware that Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa. Like US and North and South American counterparts, Afro-Brazilians have long struggled for socio-economic equity. Like US counterparts, Brazilian black founders have less access to capital.

According to a study by Professor Marcelo Paixo of the Inter-American Development Bank, Brazilians of African descent are three times more likely to be denied credit than whites. Afro-Brazilians also have more than twice the poverty rate of white Brazilians, and despite accounting for more than 50% of the population, only a handful of Afro-Brazilians hold legislatures. It is a person. Needless to say, it accounts for less than 5% of the top 500 companies. The racial funding gap is even more pronounced, as more than 50% of Brazil’s population is classified as Afro-Brazilian when compared to countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Bahia has the potential to become a center of innovation in Latin America

Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, is the natural birthplace of Brazil’s Black Silicon Valley and is primarily centered around the local ecosystem hub, Vale do Dend.

Vale do Dend works with local startups, investors and government agencies to support entrepreneurship and innovation, with a startup acceleration program focused specifically on supporting Afro-Brazilian founders. .. The Vale do Dend Accelerator organization is already in the limelight in international and national publications for its innovative efforts to bring start-ups and technical education from the mainstream to traditionally underserved communities.

In almost three years, Accelerator has directly supported 90 companies across different industries and has a high reputation in the creative and social impact sectors. Almost every company is experiencing double-digit growth, with a variety of companies providing additional funding and support. One of the first portfolio companies, Traz Favela, is a delivery app focused on linking products with customers in a traditionally marginalized community, supported by accelerators in 2019. Despite the lockdown, the business grew 230% between March and May after incubation. And recently, we signed a contract for further support and investment from Google Brasil.

The business case of Afro-Brazilian business is clearly recognized. Another company that was first supported by Vale do Dend’s mentoring was Diaspora Black, which focuses on black culture in the tourism sector. With the support of Facebook Brasil, it grew 770% in 2020.

The same is true for Afro Sade. AfroSade focuses on low-income communities that offer new services to prevent COVID-19 in shantytowns (slums in cities that happen to have a high proportion of blacks). The app currently has over 1,000 black healthcare professionals on the platform, creating jobs while addressing a highly racial health crisis.

I was on the brink of the Renaissance here in Bahia

Despite Brazil’s difficult economic situation, large domestic and global companies and investors are watching this startup boom. Leading IT company Qintess has joined as a major sponsor to help Salvador become a major black tech hub in Latin America.

In collaboration with Vale do Dend, the company has trained about 2,000 technicians and accelerated more than 500 startups led by Black’s founders, with about $ 10 million for Black startups over the next five years. Announced to invest (US $ 2 million). Also in September, Google launched the R $ 5 million Black Founders Fund with the help of Vale do Dend to boost the Afro-Brazilian startup ecosystem.

There is no doubt that a new wave of innovation will come from emerging markets. The African diaspora can play an important role. With the world’s largest African diaspora population in the hemisphere, Brazil can be a major leader in this regard. Vale do Dend is committed to building partnerships to make Brazil and Latin America a more representative start-up and creative economy ecosystem.

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