Image: Wikimedia Image: Wikimedia

With the extravagant Olympics opening ceremony fresh in spectators’ minds, athletes wandering the streets swamped in patriotic colours and newly built stadiums dominating the Rio skyline, it’s easy to forget about the poverty stricken favelas trickling out of the city of Rio. But as the world wakes up to support their respective teams, the people of the favelas are stirring. There’s opportunity, positivity and a desire to give life a purpose. Here the Great British Entrepreneur Awards look to bring light to a hub of hidden entrepreneurs.

If you venture away from the bright lights of the country’s capital and trek upwards towards the Chapéu Mangueira, nuzzled into the countryside is a shanty town, named after the hill on which it sits. Here, business is booming, locals have seized opportunities and capitalised on the cheaper price of living. City dwellers have started heading out of Rio and into the slums, enticed by the lower price tags on products ranging from flip-flops to headphones.

It’s not only products you can purchase in Chapéu Mangueira, Bispo, the owner of the popular local restaurant ‘Bar Do David’ makes a living from serving up dishes such as shrimp rolls and seafood feijoada. Although there have been mixed feelings in the favelas about Rio hosting the Olympics, and whether it will have a positive impact on the financially disadvantaged, Bispo is an avid fan: “Ever since I was a child I dreamed about what it would be like to have the Olympics in Rio. Now is the time to value the Olympics and appreciate how sports can bring people together,” he says.

The draw of the Olympics is attracting sports fans from across the country, all needing a place to stay. Thriving from this increase of visitors are the hotels and hostels situated in the favelas, booked up with flurries of tourists. Even the staff of Google have been venturing out onto the cobbled streets to map the local businesses and accommodation options, making the favelas much more accessible.

In Brazil, you would be called an empreendedor, in Britain, an entrepreneur. The language may differ but the definition remains the same, you see potential, opportunities and a purpose. From the sales of indigenous folk art in New Mexico to the development of Reggae Reggae sauce on Dragons Den, the spirit of an entrepreneur is synonymous with the desire to improve quality of life.

The entrepreneurs of the slums have managed to make the most of the fruitful opportunities the Olympics brings to its host city. And, beyond the Olympics, the businesses will be sustainable through hard-work, drive and passion. You won’t only find this Brazil, this sense of entrepreneurship is transferable all across the world, with a current rise in the social sector, which Forbes is branding as the ‘New Business Model’.

On the 22 November the Great British Entrepreneur Awards celebrates the drive and passion of entrepreneurs who are closer to our shores here in the UK.

If you fancy yourself as a Great British Entrepreneur and share some of the qualities of the entrepreneurs in the favelas, then entering our awards this November in London are the perfect place to gain your recognition.

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