Favela Brasil Xpress: The delivery solution
LOS ANGELES, California – According to World Bank data, 16% of Brazil’s population in 2018 lived in favelas – a type of slum that, despite poverty, is usually home to significant local culture and a great sense of community. However, the Brazilian government tends to neglect these areas, forcing those living in the favelas to find their own way to access basic services like clean water and sanitation.
Delivery difficulties in the favelas
Another service frequently denied to favela residents is the delivery of goods. A situation made even worse by the coronavirus pandemic as people rely more on e-commerce purchases and donations. The lack of delivery services is attributed to a number of factors: bias from the outside against favelas, difficulty finding physical addresses inside, fear of crime and now, fear of exposure to COVID-19 .
The 21-year-old social entrepreneur told The Borgen Project that he started the business from scratch, feeling like a distant dream at first. But not anymore. âToday we are really starting to transform favelas all over the country,â he said.
History and concerns of Favela Brasil Xpress
Pereira says he has always done his part to improve his living environment. âWhen I moved to ParaisÃ³polis, I was living in a risk area in a hut that housed 10 people. I couldn’t be satisfied with that, so I decided to change this reality.
He founded Favela Brasil Xpress in September 2020 amid the chaos of COVID-19. By then, the young entrepreneur had already identified the delivery problem in ParaisÃ³polis, one of the largest favelas in Brazil and “home to nearly 100,000 people”. However, another issue also inspired him: the difficulty of receiving donations from outside.
In response to the social impacts of the pandemic, Pereira and other volunteers distributed free meals and groceries to the poorest families in ParaisÃ³polis. Throughout this process, they realized that many foreigners wanted to donate but were hampered by the many obstacles. This prompted the volunteers to start collecting donations themselves, distributing them among the most vulnerable families.
As their relief work continued, Pereira identified another problem: âThe unemployment rate was too high and the volunteers also needed an income to earn a living,â he said. Additionally, small business owners in ParaisÃ³polis have struggled to deliver products both inside and outside the community. Pereira solved both by officially creating Favela Brasil Xpress and immediately started looking for partners. Although it was not an easy process, companies slowly started signing up, especially after the startup won first place in an urban logistics competition.
Pereira sees ParaisÃ³polis as a place of opportunity. âIt’s a city for me, actually. It is a country where I look for everything, where everything is possible. While Paraisopolis was the first to benefit from the startup’s work, the Favela Brasil Xpress team has already started replicating its first model in six other favelas, including the Rocinha district in Rio de Janeiro.
Strategies and impact
Pereira’s startup works mainly with the concept of the âlast mileâ. E-commerce companies drop off their products at a Favela Brasil Xpress distribution center, where community workers make deliveries on foot, by bicycle, motorbike, car, or even in an electric vehicle. âWe don’t deliver packages, we deliver happiness,â Pereira said. âFor a long time, it seemed like a distant dream for locals to have a package delivered to their doorstep. But it goes way beyond packages. We create jobs, promote sustainability and contribute to the development of the local economy.
Better yet, some older people have the opportunity to formally work for the first time. A local manufacturer shared a review online expressing gratitude for Favela Brasil Xpress, saying it was easier to buy raw materials and deliver their products outside of ParaisÃ³polis.
But Favela Brasil Xpress should not be reserved only in ParaisÃ³polis. It’s a model that Pereira says can be replicated in other favelas and his business has already started to do so. However, he cautions that it is important to understand the peculiarities of each space and adapt the original model to meet the specific needs of each community. The type of terrain and the width of the streets, for example, should be taken into consideration before choosing the best delivery vehicle for each location.
To look forward
Pereira hopes Favela Brasil Xpress will eventually expand to 50 locations across Brazil. But this will only be possible if they find more companies interested in partnering with them. Brazil continues to have a lack of opportunities, mainly for those who live in the favelas. Pereira believes that expanding his business will create even more job opportunities, develop the local economy and, as a result, reduce poverty in communities.
– Iasmine Oliveira