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Creating a culturally sensitive social business with artisans in Sao Paulo

Renata Mendes
SBCSol - lncubadora de Empreendimentos Solidarios, Brasil

Social Designer (Entrepreneurship and Skill Development)

Artisans creating craft products in the wood workshop.


Based near the southern coast of Sao Paulo, the Criqué Caiçara´s formed by seven local residents, is part of a traditional community and is supported by the Elos Institute and the NGO Central Artesol. The aim of this community is to preserve the culture, the environment and generate job opportunities using artisanal know how. From caixeta, the wood that is native to the area, products are created using the elements found in Juréia (one of Basil’s Ecological Stations i.e. preservation area). These include educational toys, accessories and home wares.


Why we used the tool

We wanted to build the business on the existing strengths of the work – on what was already being done, and create a social business that is sensitive to the local environment, community and the craft. We wanted to start building the foundation of a business plan with as much participation as possible so that the people who form the community also choose how their business would be.


How we used this tool

Until now the group was only looking at activities, but seeing all aspects of a business laid out in one visual, helped us connect the different elements and activities in the business. The key activities thus became the point from which we started filling out our Canvas.

The participatory business model exercise done with the community.

This exercise generated a flow chart that contained all areas of the business, and who is responsible for each of the areas.


Results of using the tool

Having the business model laid out in a one sheet visual helped the group find connections between different aspects of business while also coming up with new ideas and even repurposing known information in a new way. The tool enabled discussion of each area of the business, which was especially important for Criqué Caiçara where different functions are performed by the same people due to it being a small group.

Crique Caiçara is a family group which includes both young children and their mothers as part of their group. The Business Model Canvas was key in the active participation of all, helping capture aspirations of both older and younger participants in a short time. The tool is useful to facilitate introducing business concepts for the artisans, helping them acquire a more entrepreneurial outlook by focusing towards more concrete goals.

This workshop helped optimise our work: improving time management, helping better use of skills.


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