The last 3 weeks I spent in warm and sunny São Paulo. What was I doing? Packing, selling or simply giving away everything I accumulated for the last 3 years. The amount of things we accumulate we a not-so-large amount of money deserves its own blog. For now what I want to talk about is a magic moment that occurred during my short trip back to Brazil.
In my period living in Brazil I got frustrated. Always reading about B corporations, alternative business models, society 3.0 and I never found anything about it happening in Brazil. Now I know I haven’t searched enough. Ironically in The Netherlands lots of people gave me examples of initiatives happening in Brazil such as Fora do Eixo, or Brazilian people that are a reference here as Ricardo Semler. Seriously. Ricardo Semler is huge here. If you are Brazilian you might have heard of him if you are an economist. If not is possible that you haven’t heard about him at all. If you haven’t here is some interesting piece of information.
The best part of my last staying in Brazil is realizing that there are lots of things going on there that we could actually bring to The Netherlands, not the other way around. One particularly conversation really inspired me. Roger Koeppl, remember that name. Roger was born in a poor neighborhood in Brazil but in a medium class family. He had a good education and when he as 21 he was getting loads of money working from the biggest corporations in the world.
In the middle of a tragedy he volunteered for the Red Cross. His work consists on optimizing processes. Seeing the mess that was going on he spend the whole day changing how other volunteers were working, making it smart. In the end of the day double of donations were being sent to the tragedy site. Next Monday he stepped in the office realizing that what he was doing didn’t have the same meaning that it used to on the Friday.
In Brazil we have the so-called catadores. Catadores are the people who get garbage straight from the cans, select them, take them to recycling companies and sell it for living. They are usually excluded from society for the type of job they have. Roger visited a cooperative, the kind of company where catadores work. There he realized that they can be really productive without any processes simply because they like what they are doing. In a cooperative everybody owns a part of company, every single one has a voice on the decision-making.
Sum motivated people plus smart processes and you get YouGreen. A cooperative that aims not only recycling but also making Brazil realize the importance of the catadores and increase their life quality.
Two interesting examples of how things work in this cooperative. First is how they pay their cooperators: they have different layers of cooperators but it all comes down to the catadores, the people who go to the streets, collect the trash and take it to the cooperative. They define their payment as N1. Everyone iN the layers above the N1 take a paycheck proportional to the it. So the person on the next layers gets what N1 makes times 1.25, and so it goes for the other layers, always proportional to the smallest paycheck. In that way for one to succeed, everyone has to succeed as well.
The second way is how they hire people. Similar to Semco if you want to work at YouGreen your first interview will be with no one else than Roger, the idealizer of the cooperative. Then the HR will interview you and only after that you will go through the most important interview: with your colleagues; the people who will actually work side-by-side with you. I mean, it makes sense right? The people who you will work with, who you will see five days a week, and who are responsible to train you will actually have the final world if you work with them or not. Think of all the trouble companies would save if they hired people that way. I am not going to give examples but I am sure you can think os some by yourself.
YouGreen got their first client in 2013. Right now they have several costumers and cooperators, won worldwide prizes for innovation, give talks about cooperatives and waste management and most important of all they are making the catadores being recognize in Brazil as the essential people they are for the community.