Having been brought to Brazil as slaves, Afro-Brazilians face unique challenges where race becomes a factor in cases of religious discrimination. A prominent example is the harassment that a soccer star faced leading up to the World Cup, causing the Brazilian President to label this the "anti-racism World Cup."
In a recent case, a federal judge ruled, “Afro-Brazilian religious practices do not constitute a religion” because “the religious manifestations (African) do not contain necessary traits of a religion.” The case revolved around 16 Google videos created by a Neo-Pentecostal church encouraging intolerance and prejudice against religious practices of African origin (Candomblé and Umbanda). The judge, facing public outcry, quickly reversed the statement, and recognized Afro-religions as religions.
While Brazilian law forbids “the use of the media to disseminate images and contents that expose a person or group to hatred or contempt on the grounds of religion with African roots,” cultural and religious discrimination towards Afro-Brazilians adversely affects their economic wellbeing.
The Incubator offers four free services: Management Training; Consultancy (economics, law, accounting, marketing, finance); Logistic Support; and Remote Assistance (visits to help the entrepreneur put his or her business plan in to action). It currently supports over 1000 businesses in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, and takes part in the network of institutions that comprise the National Association of Entities Promoting Innovative Enterprises (ANPROTEC). The organization also works in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
For instance, Nildilene, a successful entrepreneur credits Afro Brazilian Incubator with her success. She was one of six children and because of her families economic needs she was not able to go beyond elementary school. Through hard work she ended up in Rio de Janeiro. While working at a hotel she started selling Brazilian cake and candy. By incorporating the business advice and management skills that she got from the Incubator, she was able to eventually quit working at the hotel and now has nine employees working for her business and multiple rotary carts serving the downtown area.
The Incubator also provides a forum in which it connects prospective entrepreneurs with other national and international opportunities. For instance, its members met with the Senior Advisor for Intergovernmental Coordination to the Secretary of the State, Reta Jo Jewis, as well as with the Director of the same office, Rhonda Binda, and the U.S. Consulate for Political Affairs in Rio de Janeiro, Kevin Wilson. The primary purpose of the meeting was to foster the development of Afro-Brazilian micro and small enterprises that participated in the 2014 World Cup and will participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Nationally, the Incubator provides connections to organizations such as SEBREA, one of Brazil’s largest networks facilitating micro business startups. Currently the Incubator provided information and encouraged it’s female entrepreneurs to apply for the SEBREA “Business Woman” Award, which looks to help women who have started their own business in varying fields, but inclusive of those that have a small environmental footprint.