April 30, 2020
Member Spotlight: Artemisia

From its global newsletter to its major annual events, ANDE members have access to a multitude of platforms for promoting their work and co-creating knowledge with other members. The ANDE Member Spotlight Blog is a series of short, interview-based blog posts highlighting an ANDE member organization and any new projects, recent investments, or ongoing research with interesting learnings that add value to the ANDE community.

Artemisia is a pioneering organization focusing on social businesses in Brazil. It seeks to attract and train qualified people to build and develop new business models that contribute to reducing socioeconomic inequalities.

Executive Director Maure Pessanha spoke to ANDE about Artemisia and its Social Impact Thesis on Employability, a thesis on the employability and education of economically vulnerable population in Brazil.

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about Artemisia  as an organization and the role it plays in the SGB ecosystem.

Artemisia is the first civil society organization to talk about social impact businesses in Brazil and to develop this ecosystem. When we launched our accelerator ten years ago, we were the first social impact business accelerator in Brazil, and probably in South America at large.

Our core activity is to search and select entrepreneurs and support them through both short-term and long-term acceleration processes. We also develop and disseminate content in order to determine the sectors, type of business and solutions we should focus on and improve the knowledge of the SGB ecosystem.

Since the beginning, Artemisia’s main focuses are education, healthcare, financial services and housing. We look for business models that address those four key issues the Brazilian low-income population faces.

I would like to add that Artemisia, together with Potential Ventures, Vox Capital and Fundación Avina, launched the ANDE Brazil Chapter in 2009!

How did your “Social Impact Thesis on Employability” come to be? What is the main objective?

We have been working on the Social Impact Thesis on Employability for the past seven months . Our goal was to understand the main challenges regarding employability faced by the economically vulnerable population in Brazil, and to map the opportunities that are already provided by the government and the private sector. We then aimed at identifying blind spots and, as a result, social businesses opportunities that could complement or boost the impact of public policies, improving employability of the country.

Employability is an urgent topic since there is a huge employability gap in Brazil. To address this issue, it is key to consider the strong inequalities in terms of access to education and professional qualification, as well as very low social mobility in the country. On top of that, new job market trends, such as the impact of technology and the 4.0 economy, tend to increase inequality.

In this thesis, we focused on the base of the pyramid: the economically vulnerable population that is disproportionately affected by employability problems in the country.

What is the context of employability in Brazil?

In Brazil, 170 million people are in the potential workforce, but only 93 million people are employed. Among those 93 million, 44 million are employed in the private sector and 24 million are self-employed. The ones that are self-employed usually lack various rights and development and growth opportunities.

As stated by the Brazilian Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), “Brazil is not only one of the countries in the world with the highest degree of inequality in education, but it is also one of the countries with the highest sensitivity of wages to the educational level of the worker. These two factors together make the contribution of educational inequality to wage inequality in Brazil also one of the highest in the world.” Millions of economically vulnerable people face significant barriers to access quality education and, as a result, employability opportunities. In our thesis, we seek to explore the nature of these barriers, starting with primary education.

What opportunities did you identify for social impact businesses to contribute to reducing these barriers and, therefore, progressing towards decent work?

Based on the challenges and needs of the economically vulnerable population regarding employability, we identified nine opportunities for developing business innovations to improve employability in Brazil.

1. Development of cognitive competencies. Foster the development of cognitive skills in students to decrease dropout rates and bridge the skills gap between youth and adults.

2. Development of socio-emotional competencies. Empower candidates and professionals to cope with changes in the job market by acquiring skills such as critical thinking, empathy, creativity, emotional stability, and resilience.

3. Training in technical competencies. Educate candidates and workers in technical skills — such as languages, technologies, entrepreneurship, etc. — required for professional activity to acquire a competitive edge in the labor market.

4. Access to and permanence in higher education. Prepare young people for access to higher education and assist in the permanence and inclusion after admission.

5. Better professional opportunities for youths. Enable better career choices and career planning so young people can join and navigate the job market.

6. Diversity and inclusion in the job market. Improve selection processes to ensure greater equity of opportunity and enable inclusion and career growth of minorities and vulnerable groups.

7. Qualifications update and job market security. Update qualifications of unemployed adults to allow them to access new job opportunities and, for those who are working, increase their job security.

8. Professionalization of informal workers. Provide better personal and professional opportunities for informal workers through training, formalization, and support.

9. Financial solutions for education and employability. Offer or enable affordable credit and financing at low rates for education and training to improve professional qualifications.

After writing our thesis, we launched a national campaign to find, select, and support entrepreneurs that are developing innovative solutions to address those employability and education challenges.

What is your call to the ANDE network?

As our thesis focuses on very early stage initiatives in a specific market, it would be interesting if ANDE members could share international benchmarks and best practices. We also encourage members to share mentorship contacts and seed funding opportunities.

Finally, I would like to mention our Social Impact Thesis on Financial Services, which raises issues on the lack of financial services for the poorest people in Brazil. This thesis was made possible thanks to the ANDE network since no Brazilian institution was willing to fund it. This is one of the reasons why the international connection ANDE provides is very important.