The Super Power of the NGO Arca [Newsletter 2 Brazil]

Hi everyone,

I hope you are well.

We have been in Sao Paulo for two weeks now. With Sarah, we have quietly taken our habits where every morning we go to Arca as part of our mission.

The main issues in the Favela de Vila Prudente:

Arca Do Saber Sao Paulo

What struck me was that most of the 8,000 inhabitants of the favela live in virtual isolation. Apart from those who work outside, few inhabitants go outside. Many inhabitants feel inferior or even useless in the eyes of society. The IPSOS institute published a study on this favela underlining that 67% of the inhabitants had a low self-esteem.

Other indicators caught my attention: 64% of the families live on an income of less than €320 per month, 50% do not have access to health services, 52% have not gone beyond elementary school and 28% of the families have had a teenage pregnancy.

The NGO Arca:

Arca Do Saber Sao Paulo

It is in this context that the NGO Arca was born, some twenty years ago. Their mission: to accompany the development of the favela’s inhabitants by promoting their autonomy and self-confidence while offering them educational and training opportunities.

Arca Do Saber Sao Paulo

Since our arrival, we have discovered their 2 main areas of activity:

  • Arca Do Saber: as families often cannot afford to pay for activities outside of school, children aged 6 to 14 are often left to their own devices and exposed to risks such as drug trafficking. Arca offers socio-educational, linguistic and sports activities to more than 130 children so that they can develop their soft skills and especially their self-esteem.
  • Arca Do Crezer: Young people and adults with a low level of education are often victims of prejudice and lack professional opportunities. From the age of 15, Arca offers 13 state-recognized vocational training courses (bakery, sales, logistics…) via their training and orientation center.

Arca’s superpower:

Romain Sion Arca Do Saber Sao Paulo

For an NGO with 32 employees, I was impressed by the sustainable partnerships they have managed to set up with large groups such as: l’Oréal, Véolia, Givaudan, Lesaffre, BNP, ID logistics, Alstom, Air Liquide, Leroy Merlin…

According to Thais, the president of the NGO, their partnership strategy is based on 4 axes:

  • Moving away from a charity-based positioning by adopting a solution-based approach linked to the favela’s issues.
  • A sound governance and a solid field team. Arca has succeeded in gathering a team of talented professionals who often surprise us during field visits.
  • An approach based on reliable indicators. Arca has structured a partnership with IPSOS, bringing a guarantee of credibility to the data communicated to partners.
  • An agile and flexible mode of operation allowing us to respond quickly and as closely as possible to the selection criteria and budget of companies.

An ingenious donation mechanism set up in the State of Sao Paulo:

Romain Sion Arca Do Saber Sao Paulo

One morning, I was caught by José, an employee of the NGO who was concentrating on grabbing a huge bag of receipts on his computer. I had to know more…

In Brazil, a large part of the economy being still informal, the State of Sao Paulo had the brilliant idea to set up the project Nota fiscal Paolista aiming at encouraging individuals to ask for an invoice when making purchases.

By communicating his fiscal number when making a purchase with an invoice, the customer benefits from a cashback of up to 20% of the VAT amount. There are two options: keep the money or donate it to the NGO of their choice. The advantage of this financing for NGOs like Arca is that these donations are untracked, meaning that the NGO can spend them as it wishes.

An open-air museum:

Sao Paulo

What is magical in Sao Paulo is the artistic and cultural dimension. Over the last 5 years, street art has developed considerably with magnificent murals painted on faded buildings. How to explain this development? And above all, who pays for this open-air museum? A local guide explained to us that the city and the public authorities had no budget to allocate to this kind of initiatives. However, faced with numerous tags on their buildings, private landlords have found that these frescoes are a great way to fight them. This is how private companies started to finance this kind of initiatives. Could we imagine transforming some of the so-called “crappy” places in France into beautiful artistic places?

Thanks for the interest! Next week, we’ll tell you about our mission at Arca!

Have a nice vacation and see you soon,

Sarah and Romain

Romain Sion Sao Paulo