Scott Anderson

Announcing NextBillion Brasil

This year, Brazil’s economy will surpass France’s, and in two years will be larger than that of the United Kingdom. Both of these projections, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, are based on GDP purchasing power parity.

So while much of the world is still recovering from the financial collapse, Brazil has been surging forward, powered by vibrant universities, newly created technology firms and even the progressive distinction of electing a woman as president.

The fastest-growing economy in Latin America is formally joining the ranks of the economic world powers. Yet, the strong tailwinds for Brazil often blow the financial media past the historic, and enormous, economic gulf that exists in the country. Brazil has one of the highest levels of inequality – measured by the GINI Coefficient – in all of Latin America, which was pointed out recently in discussions previewing a BoP forum there.

It’s an important place to watch, and we are pleased to announce that the NextBillion network will expand next week with the addition of NextBillion Brasil, which is set to launch on Jan. 17. Like NextBillion and NextBillion Espanol, the new site, which retains the native spelling “Brasil,” will chronicle innovations at the BoP. It will also serve as a hub for discussion, a place to exchange ideas, to find resources, and to network.

Two major trends are shaping the conversation around the BoP in Brazil. The first is government’s ’Bolsa Família’ program, recently featured here, makes payments to the poor, contingent on with behaviors consistent with social goals, such as participation in healthcare programs. It has been credited with generating income for some 12 million families across the country, income that is helping to generate new economic activity.

The second major trend is the rapid expansion of cellphones, which is opening access to market information, bringing more marginalized people into the economy for the first time, and helping to create new businesses and opportunities.

These are just two of the innovations that NextBillion Brasil will follow. For the rest of this week, leading up to the launch, we’ll explore several shifting dynamics with blog posts and interviews with academics,economic development practitioners and entrepreneurs here at NextBillion English, NextBillion en Español and of course, NextBillion Brasil.

The NextBillion network’s Managing Partners (the World Resources Institute and the William Davidson Institute), will direct NextBillion Brasil, as they do with and NextBillion Español.

“Expanding the NextBillion network to include Brazil is a natural step for the network,” said Elaine Aglipay Delio, Director of the New Ventures initiative at WRI. “The English and Spanish speaking community can learn from the Brazil experience, and we hope to share innovations from other geographies with the Portuguese language community as well. We look forward to developing all three communities, and to promoting sharing of best practices across the sites.”

“After many years as a laggard, the Brazilian economy has experienced an incredible transformation over the past decade,” said WDI Executive Director Robert Kennedy. “They have seen rapid growth, balanced across many sectors. The government has also undertaken a major effort to ensure that growth is inclusive. Brazil is one of the leading centers of innovation for market- based approaches, both for reducing poverty and for inclusive growth.”

Also joining the effort is AVINA, which has been a Content Partner for NextBillion Español and will continue in that capacity for NB Brasil.

“NextBillion Brasil will connect the Portuguese-speaking audience with with their peers around the globe who are also interested in the role of markets and enterprise in sustainable development,” said Daniel González, Director-Inclusive Markets Initiative at AVINA. “The NextBillion community will have the chance to learn with greater depth about the opportunities, success and challenges in Latin America, particularly from one of its most emblematic and influential countries in the world.”

The development of the new site also has been supported by ANDE’s Brazilian hub, which is comprised of local organizations Artemisia, VOX Capital and the Brazilian representatives of AVINA, Endeavor and New Ventures.

The NextBllion Brasil initiative has been coordinated by Rob Parkinson, a British national who has been working with BoP enterprises in Brazil for more than two years. The editing team has also received assistance from two university teachers specializing in BoP consumer issues and a final-year journalism student, all based in São Paulo.

Check back with NextBillion for the next several days as we continue the discussion, with posts from some of Brazil’s innovators and entrepreneurs working with the BoP, and a direct link to the new NextBillion Brasil site.