‘Change requires courage’: More than ever, boldness is needed to fight poverty!

By Joana Noffs | Project Analyst at IDIS

In 2021, Brazil surpassed the mark of 63 million people living in poverty, while 33 million people faced hunger, according to data from IBGE and a survey conducted by the Vox Populi Institute. At the same time, a portion corresponding to 50% of the Brazilian population held only 0.4% of the country’s wealth in financial and non-financial assets, according to data from the World Inequality Lab, also from 2021.

Inequality was exacerbated by the global pandemic as well. As evidenced in a report by Oxfam, between 2020 and 2022, the wealthiest 1% of the world concentrated nearly two-thirds of all wealth generated during that period, totaling approximately $42 trillion. Extreme economic inequality is also related to environmental, racial, and gender issues, highlighting the urgency of bold and creative actions to address the social and institutional vulnerabilities that afflict not only Brazil but also unfold into a concerning global reality.

The panel that concluded the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023, titled “More than ever, boldness is needed to fight poverty!”, precisely addressed and discussed this challenging scenario. The lecture was moderated by IDIS CEO Paula Fabiani and featured guests Gilson Rodrigues, president of the G10 Favelas, Jean Jereissati, CEO of Ambev, and Nivedita Narain, CEO of the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) India. The speakers presented possible paths and experiences that, driven by audacity, have proven to be significant in shaping a less unequal future.

Gilson Rodrigues began his participation in the panel by emphasizing the theme of audacity that guided the 2023 Forum. He highlighted that despite the recent increase in income inequality and deepening social disparities in the country, Brazilian favelas and peripheral areas should not be defined through a lens of scarcity, as this only exacerbates their marginalization.

To combat the stigma and foster a positive view of Brazilian favelas, Gilson is one of the voices that bring inspiring stories from contexts of adversity, demonstrating that favelas are also places of great knowledge. The G10 das favelas has underscored the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship to achieve necessary changes. He argues that for social investment to be effective in combating poverty, it must ensure the generation of opportunities while addressing issues such as hunger and lack of access to basic services.

“We genuinely believe that we need to create solutions based on this reality so that the favela can thrive and not solely depend on these [donations]. (…) We have been striving to create solutions that positively impact society and enable people to have work and income for their development, but also the choice of what they want to eat,” pointed out Gilson.

To achieve this, according to his leadership, social investment in favelas should always start with an approach that strengthens the autonomy of residents and their territories, thereby ensuring the financial sustainability of projects with the potential to transform structural inequalities.

Drawing from his experience in the private sector, Jean Jereissati, CEO of Ambev, highlighted in his speech the successful initiatives that the company has also been developing with the aim of contributing to these same challenges. Faced with the increasingly severe challenges posed by climate change, which also accelerate key factors in maintaining inequality, such as food scarcity, population displacement, and pollution, Ambev aims to make its production chain ‘carbon-neutral’ in the coming years and emphasizes the importance of consistency in mitigating negative environmental impacts. As Jereissati reminds us about the prospects for private social investment in the country, taking risks and daring is necessary for us to achieve urgently needed results.

“If you want to maintain the status quo, you can take fewer risks, but if you want to bring about change, you need to dare. In Brazil, we need to dare to achieve sustainable philanthropy,” emphasized the CEO of the company.

Beyond its commitment to sustainability, which, in the speaker’s view, should now be seen as an obligation, the beverage industry giant has sought to utilize a key characteristic of its activities to generate social transformation: its reach. Being present from ‘corn harvesting to the bartender at the bar,’ this characteristic allows Ambev to operate consistently in various fronts. With Bora, for example, the company has aimed to train entrepreneurs and connect them through its network, fostering productive inclusion. On the other hand, VOA is a volunteer program by the company that seeks to disseminate the knowledge and management expertise its employees possess for third-sector initiatives, promoting a more mature ecosystem of social impact. Finally, among the initiatives mentioned during the event, we also highlight AMA water, a social product of Ambev whose profits are reinvested to ensure access to clean drinking water for Brazilians in water-scarce regions.

Lastly, Nivedita Narain, CEO of CAF India, reminded us of the courage required to take strategic and planned actions in the pursuit of a more equitable society.

“When you talk about audacity, I think of courage,” shared Nivedita Narain.

She has been at the forefront of initiatives in her country that have placed organized civil society as a key player in addressing poverty and gender violence. Reflecting recent trends in philanthropy around the world, Narain explains that in the 21st century, there has been a shift in the course of private donations, which have become more directed towards governments, resulting in a decrease in the involvement of civil society organizations in this process. Echoing what Gilson mentioned, she emphasizes the importance of community organizations being heard and playing active roles in building coordinated policies between government, the third sector, and private investment.

During her presentation, the Indian leader provided a solid example of how such coordinated action can have its initial spark from local movements and scale up to successful public policy, based on an initiative in India that began by providing banking credit to economically vulnerable women in the 1990s, which led to the increased political representation of female leaders and a decrease in domestic violence. Importantly, Nivedita pointed out that when discussing the role of philanthropy in combating poverty in a broader framework, especially when addressing the Global South, we cannot forget to look at the issue through the lens of gender.

“We need a lot of courage for women; change requires courage, it doesn’t happen easily. The way change happens is when, in the community, women seek out and conquer that space, as it’s not given to us.”

Thus, Narain leaves us with the lesson of the need to consider factors like community participation and gender when reflecting on local development and in order to achieve the goals of the 2030 agenda.

Closing the panel, Paula Fabiani, CEO of IDIS, thanked the attendees and supporters of the event, reminding us of the importance of coordinated actions among government, the third sector, and businesses to combat inequalities. Celebrating the audacity of the initiatives presented during the discussion,

“First, we need to convince others that it’s possible,” Fabiani stated.

She emphasized that dreaming is a necessary act for us to be capable of achieving social change.

— The IDIS team thanks everyone for their participation!

Want to learn more? Watch the full session:

Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023: the importance of boldness for the evolution of philanthropy

On September 14th, the 12th edition of the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum took place in São Paulo. Organized by IDIS – the Institute for the Development of Social Investment, the event aims to accelerate solutions through connections and promote philanthropy in the country.

With the theme of BOLDNESS, the sessions covered topics such as ESG, territorial transformation, impact assessment, endowment funds, and much more. Throughout the day, more than 40 speakers from Brazil and abroad participated. There were 265 guests in attendance, and the live broadcast received over 1,800 views.

There were 13 sessions in 10 hours of programming, featuring 43 speakers. Notable names included Armínio Fraga (Philanthropist and former President of the Central Bank), Braulina Baniwa (Director of the National Articulation of Indigenous Women Warriors of Ancestry), Eduardo Saron (President of the Itaú Foundation), Gelson Henrique (Executive Coordinator of the PIPA Initiative), Geyze Diniz (Co-founder of the Pact Against Hunger), Gilson Rodrigues (President of G10 Favelas), Jean Jereissati (CEO of AMBEV), Luciana Temer (CEO of the Liberta Institute), Priscila Cruz (Executive President of Todos pela Educação), Roberto Sallouti (CEO and board member of BTG Pactual), Rodrigo Mendes (Founder of the Rodrigo Mendes Institute), as well as international guests such as Guerda Nicolas (Co-founder of Ayiti Community Trust) and Nivedita Narain (CEO of CAF India).

After an exciting opening featuring Favela Music artists, the opening panel ‘Boldness: a cross-cutting element for transformative, diverse, and inclusive impact’ set the tone for the event right away, which throughout the program brought different perspectives to the need for bold actions in Private Social Investment to address our socio-environmental challenges.

Next, in the plenary session ‘Family philanthropy: addressing invisible causes’, examples of individuals who dare to invest their resources in neglected causes, territories, and organizations, sometimes controversial in the eyes of the general public, were discussed, and how this contributes to fostering a culture of giving.

Another panel brought a discussion about a less explored topic: mistakes. It is common for us to seek inspiration only from successful cases, but the panel ‘Learning from mistakes: stories of those who took risks and didn’t succeed on the first try’ showed how looking at what didn’t go as expected can be equally inspiring.

The program also featured the participation of the 2022 winners of the ‘Social Entrepreneurship Award’ from Folha de S. Paulo and the Schwab Foundation, who were able to present their initiatives and purposes of action. The panel was moderated by Eliane Trindade, editor of the Award.

Next, Sir Ronald Cohen, considered one of the gurus of Impact Investing, participated via video, delivering an inspiring and powerful message about what he calls the Impact Revolution, encouraging everyone to do things differently and take risks to generate effective transformations. Check it out.

Fueled by the call, the next panel, ‘The boldness of philanthropy in the ESG Agenda’, brought the corporate perspective on the topic. In a scenario where the ESG agenda is advancing rapidly, it is important for companies to engage in Private Social Investment with a long-term vision and a clear understanding of the contributions of ISP to their sustainability strategy.

After the morning program concluded, the guests participated in a cocktail followed by a thematic lunch: each table had a host who proposed a conversation topic. Participants could choose from 18 options and delve into reflections on various issues.

Upon returning from lunch, Carla Reis, Head of the Department of the Industrial and Service Complex of Health in the area of Productive Development, Innovation, and Foreign Trade at BNDES, presented the ‘Together for Health’ program and showed how, through a matchfunding model, the bank is combining public and philanthropic capital to strengthen public health in the North and Northeast of Brazil.

The interview in the traditional ‘In Conversation with…’ session was with Armínio Fraga, a philanthropist, founder of Gávea Investimentos, and former president of the Central Bank. He explained the reasons that led him to Private Social Investment and talked about the projects he is currently involved in.

Next, Rhodris Davies, in a video appearance as well, offered reflections on Artificial Intelligence. As the world and organizations discover how AI can be useful (or not) to society, how can NGOs and funders, instead of adopting it passively, take the lead in demonstrating how AI can be used to promote positive changes in society? Watch the video.

Another topic of discussion at the Brazilian Philanthropy Forum 2023 was the need for a careful look at territories, their uniqueness and knowledge, and how this enhances actions in various themes, amplifying silenced voices and building a more promising future for all. This theme was explored in depth in the session ‘Unlikely Alliances: Boldness in the Defense of Causes and Territories’.

The panel ‘Shifting perspectives: from reporting to evidence-based management’, in turn, discussed how the growing demand for effective results and performance improvement has driven organizations to abandon traditional data collection and presentation practices in favor of more dynamic and evidence-based impact assessment approaches. Guests shared the experiences of organizations that have successfully made this transition.

In the panel ‘Funding models: calculated risks for transformative return’ the debate revolved around increasingly innovative financing alternatives, aiming for socio-environmental impact.

Closing the day’s program, in the concluding plenary ‘More than ever, boldness is needed to fight poverty!’, our guests, leaders in their sectors and countries, reinforced how bold and creative actions can indeed reduce social and institutional vulnerabilities in Brazil and around the world.

“When we began planning this gathering, we had doubts if we would have enough cases of boldness. As we designed the agenda, we discovered surprising stories, and seeing them together was very powerful,” commented Paula Fabiani, CEO of IDIS, at the event’s conclusion.

Watch the full event recording here:


The event was organized by IDIS – Institute for Social Development, in partnership with the Global Philanthropy Forum and the Charities Aid Foundation, with silver support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and bronze support from Ambev, B3 Social, BNP Paribas Asset Management, BTG Pactual, Itaú Foundation, José Luiz Egydio Setúbal Foundation, Sicoob Institute, Movimento Bem Maior, RaiaDrogasil S.A and Vale.

This year, the forum had again Alliance Magazine as a media partner. Based in England, the world’s largest philanthropy magazine covered the event and livestreamed it in English on its YouTube channel.


The Brazilian Philanthropy Forum provides a space for the philanthropic community to gather, exchange experiences, and learn from their peers, strengthening strategic philanthropy for the development of Brazilian society. The event has already brought together over 1,500 participants, including philanthropists, leaders, and national and international experts. Recordings of all editions are available on our YouTube channel. Check it out!