Rio’s tech scene
After much hype and some controversy the Rio Olympics are soon to be here, and the kick off of the Rio Olympics is the perfect time to shine further light on the entrepreneurial spirit sweeping the country.
In 2015, one in five Brazilians was involved in starting or running a new business, thanks in part to government backed enterprise programmes which saw more than 1,700 new companies forming in Rio’s pacified favelas alone.
With one in every five people in Rio living in favelas they are a hotspot of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, which is only just beginning to be tapped into. And several large companies such as Google and Microsoft have been quick to move into this growing market. Microsoft has just announced a new $100 million technology centre in the city which will act as a development centre and a business incubator for local startups.
Google has also implemented training schemes in the run up to the games. With 95% of residents only speaking Portuguese, training in the translate app is encouraging micro entrepreneurs to turn to technology to better communicate with the flood of visitors the games will bring.
One of the limitations to Rio’s entrepreneurial growth has been digital exclusion, only in the last few years have some of Rio’s largest favelas found themselves added to online maps. Previously if you had searched for ‘Rocinha’ one of the largest slums in the city with over 300,000 people living there Google Maps would have showed a large blank space. For the favelas would be too dangerous for street mappers to travel on foot taking photographs. As such, Google teamed up with AfroReggae to recruit local residents as mappers, finally placing Rocinha on the map.
So far 26 favelas have been mapped, alongside more than 3,000 small businesses. Which the city hopes will provide a much needed boost to small business owners who will now be easier to find by tourists and customers.
Whilst a young tech hub, Rio has firm plans to make a name for itself, and with the additional help of StartUp Brasil which has promised government funds of $78 million to back 100 startups, Rio is well on its way. And by attracting local and foreign developers and in turn creating more startups and jobs, and the hype surrounding the games Rio is pushing itself to the front of the highly competitive startup race.