Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Shell and the Centre for Integrated Studies and Programmes for Sustainable Development (CIEDS) launched a public notice. This notice is a Call-to-Action for COVID-19 for LiveWIRE participants in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espírito Santo. The initiative supported ten projects to develop emergency solutions to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on society.

The initiative was designed to generate new ideas for the future and financially encourage the businesses participating in Shell Iniciativa Jovem and Shell Iniciativa Empreendedora (Shell LiveWIRE Brazil) to remain stable during the pandemic.

Transforming education into a more dynamic practice

One of the projects selected by the notice was Era Uma Vez o Mundo, a social impact business founded by Jaciana Melquiades in 2013. The business sells educational devices and services that promote representativeness through affection. In addition to its main product, the Dandara black dolls, the company carries out training activities, promoting anti-racist debate, and helping education professionals to manage conflicts in the classroom and facilitate conversations about racial issues with young people.

"We innovate in transforming education into a more dynamic practice, through the development of soft skills such as cooperation, communication, joint work and leadership, fundamental for the development of a plural and critical view of inequalities,” said Melquiades.

Sales of products and services are essential for the maintenance and expansion of jobs in Jaciana’s project, whose studio is in the Santo Cristo neighbourhood, and generates employment for black women in the port region. Part of the sales value returns to society in the form of workshops for public school teachers and students, and the distribution of dolls and books for the institutions.

“With the public notice, we were able to fulfil our responsibility to guarantee the income of women on the periphery and in situations of social vulnerability. We expanded sales with a digital platform compatible with our business and expanded the number of homes with access to educational toys. We created this platform for the free dissemination of our content at a time when social isolation was mandatory. We encouraged the production of our products outside the studio, training four other black women, residents of Morro da Providência, to make Dandara dolls from home. We are a team of 12 people who directly depend on the functioning of this structure,” Melquiades added.

Adapting production to manufacture critical PPE

Maré, founded in 2015 by professor and researcher, João Azevedo also received support from the initiative. He makes accessories made from discarded materials, mostly wristwatches. Before the pandemic, the venture was in the process of launching two new products in 2020: a watch and 3D printed glasses.

“Who buys a watch in a pandemic where no one can leave the house? We saw our revenue plummet. All plans fell to the ground. Without a return horizon and realising all the difficulties, we sought to support the efforts to speed up a response and return to normality as much as we could. Thus, we placed our entire manufacturing structure and coordinated, together with PUC-Rio, a project for the manufacture and donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical devices for healthcare units in Rio de Janeiro,” said Azevedo.

According to the entrepreneur, the help of the public notice was essential for the company to organise itself and open new paths for the future. With the funds guaranteed by the programme, Maré developed a face shield with artificial intelligence and distributed 110 kits of PPE to the Maria do Socorro Family Clinic, in Rocinha. It also renewed and introduced new technologies in its manufacturing infrastructure.

“In addition to accessories, we realised that our company, by using digital manufacturing, could easily adapt its line to the production of practically any other product, without impacting the already organised line. This gave rise to Irmãos Azevedo, a spin-off of Maré, focused on providing manufacturing and design services for products with low environmental impact and with a reduced supply chain. With the technologies and processes developed internally and the holistic vision provided by the Shell Iniciativa Jovem programme, today we have very competitive costs for the manufacture of small series and complex products, even compared to China.”

“Argilando” founder, Pedro Ronan Marcondes
“Argilando” founder, Pedro Ronan Marcondes

Ensuring social projects can still support the most vulnerable during the pandemic

The NGO Argilando also received support from the initiative. Founded 16 years ago by Pedro Ronan Marcondes, the organisation promotes volunteering, mobilising people and organisations around common goals. For this, the enterprise acts as a consultancy in social responsibility, serving more than 11,000 people a year.

The pandemic led the enterprise to rethink volunteering and adapt its social projects to tackle the increased vulnerabilities including priority demands for food security, health, income generation and access to education. All these factors led Argilando to create an emergency care plan to maximise its social impact.

“We took part in the first groups of Shell Iniciativa Jovem programme, in 2005. Since then, we have received support from the programme at different stages of the maturation of Argilando. In 2020, we had the opportunity to be one of the winners of Call-to-action for COVID-19. The investment provided us with the opportunity to get an idea off the ground (the Arte Cria project) and, at the same time, meet the demand of the children served by our projects,” said Pedro Ronan, the NGO's director.

The project Arte Cria is an initiative of integral education and incentive to creative play, based on the maker culture, which transforms unstructured materials, such as popsicle sticks, socks, buttons, paper rolls, among others, into toys and games. In its pilot edition, Arte Cria 82 volunteers and 21 institutions from Rio de Janeiro and Niterói participated, distributing playful kits to 1,278 children aged 5 to 11 years away from their school and community activities. Since then, the project has been continued in two more editions until August this year and some others are still planned until the end of 2021.

“Today, Argilando is a mature organisation, with 16 years of experience and an international presence with representation in other countries. We serve thousands of people and our goal for the future is to increasingly expand the areas and places of activity through volunteering and linked to networks of people engaged and committed to human and social development. Shell Iniciativa Jovem programme is part of this story."