Last week I was giving classes for the staff that takes the courses of Post-Graduation in Corporate Responsibility and also for the group of Social Projects in the Territory. My part of the content is related to the topics of engagement and relationship development, both for business and for organizations in general. Passing tools, but mostly sharing stories about how “engagement” can be an incredible tool to find new opportunities for action, creation, investment, development.

As an engagement, the vision of the relationship with the “community” is very related – it has the most varied definitions and interpretations depending on who is looking at such community. I decided to bring the theme of the favelas (slums) because in most people this “community” is seen as a place associated with poverty, violence, deprived of the basic conditions of life, a place looked at with the eyes of lack of something. People, businesses and companies that still see the Brazilian favelas in this way can not be more deceived.

According to data from Favela Data, 12.3 million people live in these communities throughout Brazil, representing 5% of our population. These residents economic movement is arround BR R$ 68.6 billion per year (US$ 17bi). In 2015, 67% of homes are equipped with plasma, LED or LCD televisions, 75% of homes have a washing machine, 24% of the residents own a car, and 14% of the inhabitants owned one. But the favelas are not just for consumption.

According to the same survey, four out of ten slum dwellers are willing to set up their business – or to undertake, as it is fashionable. More than half of these aspiring entrepreneurs still intend to open the business in up to three years. Among the residents who want to own their own business, 63% want to do this within the favela where they live. Already 19% intend to undertake outside their community, but in a neighborhood nearby, and 15% in neighborhoods further away from home. The majority (56%) of the future entrepreneurs of the Brazilian favelas belong to class C, 38% are from the lower class and 7% from the upper class. More than 50% of them are 25 years old and are married, 49% are men and 51% are women.

In addition the favelas are connected. Research shows that 61% of residents access the internet at least once a week. Young people are the most connected – 87% of people between the ages of 14 and 18 access the web once a week or more. More accessible in recent years, smartphones are taking up the space of computers and notebooks and have become the main source of web access in the favela. Currently 75% of the residents access the internet through the smartphone – five years ago they were 41%. In relation to the social networks most used by the residents is Facebook: 92% of the residents have Facebook, 22% have Twitter, 17% have Instagram and 7% use LinkedIn.

It is by these and others that the favela and the innovation go hand in hand. And here I will use the concept of innovation as that local process, which creates networks of people, meetings, new communities and brings happiness. In addition, social innovation, that is, one that uses the new configurations of successful communities and global development at the local level. That is why new businesses, products and services are emerging – and can arise – at all times in communities and favelas throughout Brazil. Businesses, products and services that can be created in the communities, but also those that can be created by the big companies of the market if they fail to see the favela as a place of “faults” and to understand these communities as a market with niches and own characteristics , as purchasing power, with creativity, with solutions and strength!

Businesses should fail to see favelas as a place to measure behavior and define marketing or product testing or selling behavior. Companies should work to support and surf in this movement of these communities so they can support businesses (including social ones), develop and improve products and services, adapt their communication companies (in all channels), generate better content (on and offline) , learn from diversity. Anyway we all have to win and a lot going ininto and egaging with the “favelas”!

PS: One of many experiences in the favelas: