Urban Life - Social integration in the Amazonas

 Coming from Spain, bringing FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE Directors to know CUFA
Coming from Spain, bringing FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE Directors to know CUFA

 Fernando Garrido, General Director, Social Action at FUNDACION MAPFRE; Leonardo Martins Dias, Strategic Sustainability Advisor
Fernando Garrido, General Director, Social Action at FUNDACION MAPFRE; Leonardo Martins Dias, Strategic Sustainability Advisor


  • Education: Support to formal education to contribute to reduce school dropouts
  • Income generation: through employment and entrepreneurship
  • Health: raise awareness and combat Malaria and water-related diseases
  • Human Rights: enhance women's, youth's and children's rights; and gender equity


  • Project strategy, co-creation, implementation, Q&A and reporting
  • Coalition building / collective impact facilitation, stakeholder engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Evaluation
  • Promotion


  • FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE (Acción Social), Spanish biggest insurance company, third one in the world
  • CUFA, the leading and largest NGO in Brazil
  • MV Bill rap singer (youth engagement reinforcement)
  • ADEIS, Manaus, NGO
  • Manaus Municipality
  • CETAM - Centro de Educaçao Tecnológica do Amazonas
  • SEBRAE - Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio às Micro e Pequenas Empresas
  • SENAC - Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Comercial
  • SENAI - Serviço Nacional de Aprendizagem Industrial


    • More than 220 people officially employed
    • More than 200 people have received a diploma
    • More than 2,500 people benefited

    • Video made by students from the Journalism & Community Communication course:

    • Video with more testimonials from project's participants:


PROJECT OVERVIEW - Detailed information


According to the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme, data from 2012) Brazil is 85th in global ranking with high income inequality despite high growth rates. Brazilian HDI (Human Development Index) is 0.730 (United Nations, data from 2012). This inequality and social exclusion, linked with low workforce qualification, is slowing Brazilian development according to the UN. 

As a reference point, Norway is in first place in UN's human development ranking with 0.955 points. Niger and Democratic Republic of Congo lie last with 0.304 points.

According to IBGE (Brazilian Statistics Institute, data from 2010) 1.8 million people live in Manaus, the capital city of Amazonas state. More than 129,000 people, 7,2% of Manaus population, are "living" on less than one dolar a day and there are more than 52,000 illiterate people over the age 15 in Manaus city. In Brazilian state where the world famous Amazon forest struggles to "survive", 648,000 people live in extreme poverty. On the other hand, Manaus is the city with the 6th highest GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in Brazil, revealing a high concentration of wealth combined with extreme social exclusion and inequality.

Like all Brazil, a concentration of wealth and poorly qualified workforce are at the root of all social problems and impact directly on environmental issues, such as Amazon forest deforestation. Many poor families have no option but to work in deforestation related activities.

As is a common experience across the world, urbanisation is leading to the growth of favelas, mainly in East and North of Manaus. Peasants, Indians and the 'ribeirinha' population from Amazonas river arrive in Manaus looking for a job and a better life but without qualifications they have no option than to live in favelas. East Manaus, where Grande Vitória and Nova Vitória, Cidade do Leste, Zumbi dos Palmares, Novo Reino I e II are located, is where urban growth is highest, with high criminality and unemployment rates, contributing to vulnerability and social exclusion. More than 50% of local people live in extreme poverty.

Employers are prejudiced against people who live in favelas and require a minimum six months experience. Many residents lack formal work experience and labour documentation.

Training programs evasion by participants is not representative. But the few registered cases were because the participant was needing incomes and got back to informal jobs. Some absences were registered due to health diseases problems, it's very usual because of sanitary conditions in the community. We reported to the responsible organisms. 


The Urban Life project has been ongoing since 2011. Seeking to maximize our social impact, we develop projects where inequality is concentrated, in the "Nova Vitória and Grande Vitória, Cidade do Leste, Zumbi dos Palmares, Novo Reino I e II" communities in east Manaus.

The strategy is to break the poverty cycle: lack of education and qualification - unemployment - lack of opportunities and aspirations - social exclusion - high school dropouts rates - delinquency. Education is crucial to give people qualifications and prepare them to enter the labour market and generate income. This enables them to enhance their living conditions. In addition, we support people through their job search, presentation, CV writing, interview preparation, etc.

In order to increase income generation opportunities, we also deliver entrepreneurship training programs to support people setting up small businesses. 

We are training people in the following skills: social entrepreneurship, project management, tourist guide, gastronomy, hotel and events receptionists and managers, IT, graphic design, customer service, building, creative industries, English, Journalism, netc.

Social Technology methodology:

Co-creation with local grassroots leaders. In this case Ms. Luceny Freire and Ms. Kelly Simão.

• The team is comprised of people who live in the communities and know, from the inside, their needs and issues. 

• Local people have to be the protagonists of their social change.

• An employment agency - Balcão de Emprego - was created in the community to enhance engagement in the initiative.

• Recruited community coaches, skilled people, communitary energisers and facilitators.

• We matched community and employers' need and employed people close to the community, to reduce the risk of workers' children being alone for long periods of time and getting involved in criminality.

• We encourage companies to provide day care centres for workers' children. 

Cultural visits to theatres, museums and to historic points of Manaus to motiveate, engage and integrate social groups and enhance knowledge of their city. 

• Participants’ families are engaged in the learning process. 

Citizenship education, health care and sustainability are integrated across the program. This include initiatives to systematically map and report Malaria cases, deliver training in order to raise awareness about Malaria and water-related diseases, and the provision of medical supplies and preventative measures like bednets and mosquito repellent.

The impact in the community is greater than the measurable results with enhanced self esteem; raised aspirations; health; community autonomy and resilience. Because the operational team is made up of residents, they continue as a living legacy in the community. Each person who participates in the program is an agent of change, scaling up impacts through a multiplication process.

 Urban Lifes project_Leiza da Silva
Urban Lifes project_Leiza da Silva

 I found a job and I am officially employed after registering in   employment agency (Balcao de Empregos). I feel very happy because now I have a job working in a restaurant. The Urbans Life project team do an excellent job in the community, giving poor people opportunities to access the labour market and health."

Leiza da Silva, 33 years old, participant of gastronomy course

"This course is helping me a lot, mainly to get a job and have a professional qualification. My whole life is a challenge, because I am a woman and this profession is man orientated, but I am not afraid. I know that prejudices and challenges will always exist, but my dream to have a profession and to build my own house is stronger. And my children, differently from me, will be able to access to school , health, and have the future I could not have."

Terezinha Santos, 24 years old, participant of builders course

Video made by students from the Journalism & Community Communication course

Video with more testimonials from project's participants

Related articles: 

Spanish FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE supports new projects in Brazil

Managers of NGOs and socially responsible companies encourage investment in marginalised areas at a lecture held at ESADE Madrid

Publication about Coalition building, fundraising and project's co-creation/realization I articulated between Spanish FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE and CUFA in Bahia

FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE renews its trust in CUFA 

New projects in Amazonas favelas supported by FUNDACIÓN MAPFRE and realized by CUFA and ADEIS

Publication about new projects in Brazil between FUDACIÓN MAPFRE and CUFA