FMS alum Elliot Rosenberg has had great success with his own social enterprise, “Favela Experience.” This is a way for tourists to stay in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas and experience the local culture. Elliot’s personal experience staying with host families is what inspired his business model. By staying in the authentic and culturally rich Favelas, tourists gain a unique perspective and learn about the way of life of their hosts. Additionally, the local hosts earn a sustainable income and get the chance to meet culturally diverse guests. With the World Cup approaching, his business is growing and was featured in Next Billion Blog.http://www.nextbillion.net/blogpost.aspx?blogid=3670
When asked why he decided to start Favela Experience, Elliott remarked, “When I first visited Rio’s favelas, I was overwhelmed by the exciting culture and hospitable people. I knew I had to open these communities to the world in an immersive way that contributes to local development.” By promoting tourism within the favelas, the negative connotations are also improved. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that during the World Cup, over 600,000 tourists are expected to visit Rio and compete for 55,400 hotel rooms. There lies an excellent opportunity for business and sustainable development within Rio’s favelas. Hotels are rapidly increasing prices, and tourists are even willing to pay more to stay in the home-stays.
When asked about the role of profit in a social enterprise, Elliot reports that, “Social enterprises should aim to be wildly profitable, in order to have the most social impact. Profitable businesses get the best talent, they garner the most investment, and they expand. If people can improve the world and become incredibly wealthy at the same time, why shouldn’t they? It’s a destructive cultural norm that we censure social change agents who make a lot of money; it’s backward how we accept that the people who most harm society and the environment have the highest salaries. If we can reverse that mindset, we’ll see a radical shift in capital toward ventures addressing the world’s most pressing problems.”