Brazil continues to face an economic slump that started in 2014 and that was further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the economy shrank by 4.1%, the largest single-year contraction in the past three decades, according to Brazil’s official statistics institute. While the poverty rate temporarily fell to 21 percent in 2020, thanks to generous governmental transfers to 66 million individuals, it is expected to rise again this year with the end of the temporary assistance program and a weak labor market recovery caused by the second wave of the pandemic.
Young people, especially young women, have been hit especially hard. The unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-olds increased by 6 percentage points in 2020, soaring to 30%. This is the highest annual rate since official records began in 2012 and is more than double the unemployment rate among adults, which stands at 14%. Young people living in marginalized communities, like the ones where Vai na Web operates, lack the technical expertise required for the increasingly specialized labour market. This lack of skills means they are only able to find temporary and low paying work, if any work at all. Without viable job prospects, many young people turn to criminal groups and gangs, which offer them an easy and lucrative way to make money.
Vai na Web operates in two of Rio’s favelas, where the effects of the economic recession are particularly acute. Vai na Web helps young people from marginalized communities get the training and support they need to access good paying jobs in the IT sector.
 From 29% in 2019.
 To protect the most vulnerable people, the government put forward a large, targeted and time bound fiscal package focused on social assistance. The cost of this package was estimated at US$156.8 billion, or 11.4% of GDP in 2020.
Vai na Web is a young and vibrant organization. Founded in 2017, it offers digital programming and social-emotional skills training for young people aged 16 to 29 in two of Rio’s most vulnerable favelas: Morro dos Prazeres and Complexo do Alemão. The organization currently supports 120 marginalized young people with technical training in programming and coaching in people skills, helping them secure employment following completion of the course. They do so by partnering with local businesses in need of skilled employees. Since its formation, Vai na Web has prioritized narrowing the gender gap in the technology market. Today, close to 60% of its students are women.
 Abraço Campeão, another EMpower grantee partner, is based in and runs programs in this favela.
EMpower’s first grant to Vai na Web will help 120 marginalized young people between the ages of 16 and 24 (58% female and 42% male) increase their employability prospects through life skills and vocational skills training, mentoring, and access to internships and job placement support. By the end of the training, participants will become front-end programmers and be ready to join Brazil’s rapidly growing software development sector. Vai na Web will reserve up to 60 spaces in its program for graduates from three of EMpower’s current grantees in Brazil: Redes da Maré, Onda Solidaria, and Abraço Campeão, helping create a pathway for continued development for marginalized young people in Rio.
Primary Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Funded Since: 2021
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