What new economies emerging in Brazil today will contribute to building a sustainable future? What role can the sharing, creative, or circular economies play in reducing social inequality? This was the focus for this year’s Iniciativa Jovem Business Fair.

Brazil’s LiveWIRE programme hosts the Business Fair annually, giving 54 innovators a chance to exhibit their businesses to over 750 attendees and compete for funding. The Business Fair also gives entrepreneurs to network and build partnerships. With this year’s theme – "New Economies: A Test for the Future" – Iniciativa Jovem called on entrepreneurs to consider how their solutions can make a positive impact on the communities around them.

“Supporting sustainable development and entrepreneurship is at the heart of Iniciativa Jovem’s mission,” said Leise Duarte, social investment advisor for Shell Brazil. “By focusing on the new economies, we’re calling on entrepreneurs and the wider community to envision how the latest innovations and market changes can create a better future for all.”

The event concluded with an award ceremony, with eight entrepreneurs taking home a cash prize. Unlike many other competitions, the entrepreneurs didn’t pitch their businesses on a stage before a panel of judges. Instead, the judges were anonymous members of the crowd and entrepreneurs had no way to know who might be one of the judges.

In addition, entrepreneurs were competing for the “most popular business” award, which was chosen by Fair visitors. In this case, both the visitors’ and judges’ opinions lined up perfectly with the “most popular” awardee also taking home first place in the Business Fair competition.

Lucas Lima, founder of Infill, was the recipient of the two prizes. His business developed a 3D printer using recycled materials

“I’m very happy to have my work recognised twice!” He said. “I joined the programme as a crazy scientist and I’ll be leaving as an entrepreneur.”

The entrepreneurs who participated in the Business Fair walked away with more than just prize awards, and even those who didn’t win an award this year benefited from the event.

“This is the first time I participated in an event of this magnitude,” said Ríck Sílvá, creater of Close Certo, a marketplace that connects beauticians with potential clients. “Being able to demonstrate Close Certo directly to the consumer was an incredible experience.”

The 54 Iniciativa Jovem entrepreneurs will continue the LiveWIRE programme, receiving personalized coaching based on their performance at the Fair and also refining their business plans. At the end of the year, each entrepreneur will present his or her business plan and undergo an audit. Those who pass the audit will then receive the Iniciativa Jovem programme seal.

To learn more about Iniciativa Jovem, please visit their website