Airfox partners with New Entrepreneurial Leaders to support financial education for small business owners in Brazil

The partnership highlights the startup’s focus on financial inclusion for the underbanked

5 min readOct 7, 2019


Airfox is partnering with Brazilian organization Novos Lideres Empreendedores, or New Entrepreneurial Leaders, to provide interested Brazilian entrepreneurs an opportunity to learn business skills. The partnership is another way Airfox helps to accelerate financial inclusion in emerging markets.

New Entrepreneurial Leaders is running a class from September to December of 2019 for residents. The group was started in 2015 by a group of volunteers interested in highlighting the bright minds in favela communities in Rio. The project developed into a financial literacy program focused on providing business skills to new entrepreneurs. Students participate in weekly sessions where they learn basic, yet vital, skills to develop their business ideas. The classes started Thursday September 19th.

This new session consists of students with different levels of prior business knowledge. Some are already self-employed or managing a small business and want to formally learn skills and techniques to best maintain their wealth and gain capital. Others are looking to start their own business in the future and need basic business skills before they take the first steps.

Students from the first session of the New Leaders class that began in September.

At the end of the course students can participate in a competition against other students. They present their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of consultants and fellow entrepreneurs. The judges then evaluate the different projects and offer criticism, tips, and real-life options for these students to build partnerships to help bring their idea to life.

For the second year in a row the classes are taking place at the Instituto Reação library. Over the next 15 weeks, the course will cover various topics and include different teaching methods like lectures, guest speakers, and personal practice to coach students on applying what they learn to their personal lives and goals. They will cover the basics of many different financial topics including accounting, communication strategy, personal development, business planning, investment, sales, and marketing.

Where past students are now

Two alumni who successfully developed their personal businesses after previously taking the course joined the NLE leadership team and are helping to organize and prepare material for the 2019 course. Fabiana Rodrigues founded Rocinha em Foco, a Facebook page created to give voice to the community.

Rocinha em Foco group logo (from facebook page).

Fabi attended the course in 2017 because she wanted to improve her project as well as find a way to monetize her efforts. Since her participation in the class, the page has over 100,000 followers and has accumulated both local and international sponsors.

“I had no idea that one day the page would really become my job,” says Fabiana, “I now can pass on to new students how truly important each step of this course was to the growth and success of my page.”

Pedro Duka is another former student who experienced the benefits from participating in the course. He was the winner out of the many project ideas in 2017, and with the monetary award he invested in his natural sandwich delivery business, Duka Naturais.

“I want to share my experience with the new students. It will be difficult, but I want to show them that we all have to dream,” explains Pedro. “When your dream is still stuck in your head you are just another dreamer in the world. When you bring it outside of your thoughts and start acting on it you go from dreamer to entrepreneur.”

The goal of the program

The New Entrepreneurial Leaders organization is run by motivated leaders who are excited to see students develop an interest in entrepreneurship, or build on their already established business-focus with the new skills they learn.

“By highlighting opportunities in their communities we are igniting students’ entrepreneurial spirit and promoting believing in themselves and their strategic business decisions,” says Natale Papa, director of New Entrepreneurial Leaders. “ We look forward to helping more people see entrepreneurship as a possible path they can take for personal and social change.”

The organization prides itself in not just educating students, but also empowering them to feel confident in the business decisions they make. The four main goals for the New Entrepreneurial Leaders group are: change of mindset, development of technical knowledge, development of personal skills, and creation of sustainable support structures for the students to rely on for help.

Meet some of this year’s students!

This year’s New Entrepreneurial Leaders class has about 25 people, ages 25–45, attending training courses. Students will gain experience and guidance on their business plans by presenting to fellow entrepreneurs, class teachers, and guest speakers.

This is the case for new student Bruno Tavares, who has worked for a restaurant in Rio for 13 years. “I’ve been to many well-known restaurants with popular chefs, but I’ve always truly wanted to have my own restaurant,” says Bruno. “I’m taking the course to learn management skills so I can finally start the process of opening my own business.”

Students listening intently to a guest speakers’ insights on applying entrepreneurial skills.

Fabíola Tavares, another student in this year’s class, currently works as a Personal Organizer and feels that with her drive and personality she can bring more to the business discussions at her company. The only thing holding her back is a gap in her business knowledge.

“I worked for many years in the administrative area, but I was not happy with what I was doing. When I joined the professional organization industry I knew I would enjoy the new path, but I am still missing certain skills,” explains Fabíola. “It’s a difficult area, so I want to educate myself on different business topics and tips to leverage the knowledge as best I can.”

The newest partner: Airfox

Airfox, through our digital challenger bank brand banQi, is the main sponsor of the 2019 program. By offering financial support to the program the company is helping provide weekly classes for students, allowing their ideas to grow and succeed in an economy that has traditionally not given them the opportunity.

To learn more about the New Entrepreneurial Leaders program and how they are providing learning opportunities for entrepreneurs in Brazil please visit their Facebook page.

To learn more about Airfox’s initiatives to spread financial inclusion to the unbanked around the world please visit our website. For more stories of other ways we’ve fostered financial inclusion in emerging markets please visit our blog!




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