Note from BBT: In Brazil, black entrepreneurship is exploding! It’s not something that I can verify just from the articles coming out about Afro-Brazilian emtrepreneurs, I can say this because I’ve seen it. I’m not trying to pass on the idea that when one enters any store you will be surrounded with products targeted at the black population, but I am saying that it far more common to see such products nowadays than even just 10 years ago.
In Brazil today, you could say that there is a sort of black revolution going on. Along with the rise of a large percentage of the population coming to identify with “the struggle”, has come demands that this population be able to see itselves represented. Everything is happening simultaneously and it’s pretty amazing to see.
In the mid-90s came the first successful magazine specifically targeted at the Afro-Brazilian population, Raça Brasil. Then, in the late 90s and first years of the 2000s came the debate and implementation of the system of quotas and affirmative action in the nation’s top public universities. Coinciding with this was the emergence of São Paulo’s Feira Preta, a sort of black expo that brought together black entrepreneurs and black consumers.
To be sure, there is still a long ways to go, but the the changes are significant. Afro-Brazilians are stepping forward and filling a void that has always existed and that always made it appear as if they didn’t exist. Taking things into their own hands, today we are seeing products specifically tailored for black consumers, such as clothing and beauty products, black book publishers, black podcasts, YouTube channels and blogs, black entrepreneur events and a type of attitude and solidarity that is leading Afro-Brazilians to winning reality shows and even taking political office.
Yes, there is a change in the air. I just wonder, with so many changes that have come between the year 2000 and 2020, what changes will we see in the coming decade? In the article below, we see another example of black women using the education and skills they have attained to present yet another product to a consumer base that has long been ignored.
‘Black entrepreneurship in Brazil’ is gaining strength, says IBGE
Brazilians in this segment represent 56% of the population and entrepreneurs invest in products and services for them
By Elian Guimarães
The movements of empowerment and affirmation of pessoas de pele preta (people with black skin) have been gaining strength around the world and drawing the attention of the Brazilian market. According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in a survey conducted between the years 2015 and 2018, the group of people who declared themselves black or brown was the only one that grew.
In 2019, this portion of the population already represented more than 56% of Brazilians, of the country’s 209.2 million inhabitants, 19.2 million assumed themselves as pretos (blacks) and 89.7 million pardos (browns).
Data collected in a study “Empreendedorismo negro no Brasil” (Black Entrepreneurship in Brazil), carried out by the black business accelerator PretaHub, of Feira Preta (black expo), in partnership with Plano CDE and JP Morgan, preto and pardo consumers move over BRL 1.7 trillion per year in Brazil and more than half – about 51% of Brazilians who are entrepreneurs – are preto or pardo. Of these, 52% are women.
Entrepreneurs attentive to new market trends have invested in businesses specialized in meeting the needs of black men, women and children.
And among the most promising enterprises are industries and commercial establishments specializing in cosmetic products and accessories for the segment.
The beauty sector is the one that has most invested in products for black people. There are items for hair, make-up and accessories, salons specializing in hair care and black skin, among others, which have been gaining strength.
“In my time, if we wanted to use a shampoo, we only had as an option what everyone else used. You could only choose between shampoos for dry, oily or mixed hair. Not now, almost everything is customized for my hair type and skin tone. This is wonderful, but there is still a long way to go to reach the ideal,” comments professor Márcia Lúcia da Silva.
Patrícia Kelly dos Santos has a master’s in chemistry and has been working with black hair for 15 years, an apprenticeship she started with the African friends she met at the Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) (in Viçosa, Minas Gerais), where she graduated. Today she is the owner of Niari Cosméticos, in partnership with Elissandra Flávia dos Santos, whose products are self-made.
Patrícia’s professional career began when she was 12, working as a maid in family homes. “At 16, I started to get involved with entrepreneurship. I produced and sold sweets and worked in the clothing industry, with my sister. But for us, women and black, entrepreneurship is not so easy. So, we went to study,” she says.
“Some studies have shown that blacks’ purchasing power is growing. Therefore, investing in businesses that can supply more and better the needs of this group of people can be something very promising.” – Leonardo Mól, manager of the Midwest and Southwest Regional of Sebrae Minas
When she finished college, she returned to Divinópolis, in the Midwest of Minas Gerais state, and started teaching. “On weekends, I worked with afro hairstyles. The demand grew so much that I decided to abandon my teaching career to dedicate myself to black beauty, because that made more sense to me, ” she says.
It was through the encouragement of a friend who worked with cosmetics that she started to manufacture chemicals aimed at black people. “It is very difficult to find something that really represents us. And so I started to associate this work with my salon,” she recalls.
According to the activist and singer Yêda Labrunie, the growth of business for this audience was due to the fact that the black people are gaining more strength and consciousness to actually assume their race, through work carried out by various black movements. “Proof of this is that blacks are more accepting of their hair, understanding that we are beautiful as we are,” says Labrunie.
“Some studies have shown that blacks’ purchasing power is growing. For this reason, investing in businesses that can supply more and better the needs of this group of people can be something very promising,” observes the manager of the Regional Center-West and Southwest of Sebrae Minas, Leonardo Mól.
Patrícia reinforces how important it is to have a product or service aimed at a target audience. “All audiences have a specific product for them and we blacks are still not even considered as a pubilc. Therefore, this market is still very small,” she explains.
Carla Caroline dos Santos is Patrícia’s sister and owner of a store in Divinópolis. She sells hair and accessories such as earrings, tiaras, hairpieces, turbans and cosmetics. The store is very busy and sales have not stopped even in the height of the pandemic.
“Our biggest public, without a doubt, are mulheres pretas (black women). Most of them are going through or have gone through the transition process, which consists of assuming the “black”, their natural hair. When we had to close the store in the red wave of the pandemic, online sales and delivery boomed,” says the businesswoman.
Márcia Lúcia da Silva is a teacher of the Portuguese Language and Literature and works with elementary and high school students from the state of Minas Gerais.
“I live with young people from all social classes. I don’t know exactly yet, but I realize that the appreciation of the black race brought to this community the desire to go into business.” The educator believes that it is time for the market to have a more refined look at the young black audience.