NESsT and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation Celebrate the Successful Brazilian University Social Entrepreneurship Program


As the first year of NESsT Brazil's University Social Entrepreneurship Program draws to a close, NESsT and its partners celebrate the outcomes.

How can we strengthen tomorrow’s social businesses today? By supporting and motivating the next generation of entrepreneurs. Through a new University Social Entrepreneurship Program, NESsT and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation created an opportunity for interested students to understand both the challenges their target markets face every day and the business skills required to address them.


In 2014, with support from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, NESsT Brazil launched the university program in partnership with the top business school in Brazil, University of São Paulo’s Faculty of Economics, Administration and Accounting (FEA-USP). Within only two weeks, we received more than 200 applications from undergraduate students interested in the innovative Social Responsibility and Social Entrepreneurship curriculum co-developed by NESsT and FEA-USP. Forty students from a variety of disciplines were selected to participate.

Business With a Purpose

When I got into FEA, I didn’t feel like college was for me. I thought I lacked a bit of purpose in what I was doing. I could not find [that purpose] in anyone I talked to or in any of the classes I took. I even thought I should drop out of college and look for something more humanitarian. The University Social Entrepreneurship classes helped me see a bright side in business, and it took me back to believing in the potential of business to change society for the better.
— Tiago Fabri, USP student

After participating in two mock pitch sessions and receiving detailed feedback, students in the 2014 program presented their business plans to a mock investor panel (composed of NESsT staff and advisors). The panel and other partners evaluated the business plans and selected a winner: Retalhar, a “triple-bottom-line” business plan to collect, recycle, and reuse professional uniforms in an innovative model that addresses both social and environmental issue. The student group will receive a grant of 20,000 BRL (around $6,300) in 2015 to begin to implement its business plan.

Filling the Gap Between Social Enterprise and Impact Investor

NESsT is vital to facilitate the development of social businesses. Today there’s a great distance between the social business reality and the reality of professional investors. NESsT joins these two worlds.
— Amaury Takaki, Carlyle Group Associate and NESsT Brazil Business Advisor since 2010

Both Retalhar and second-place student group, Agência de Cuidadoras Veleiros, participated in the program’s commencement event: a Social Enterprise Interchange with NESsT’s parallel university program in Peru. In March 2015, the six selected students went on site visits to social enterprises supported by NESsT in both Lima and Cusco, where they exchanged ideas with entrepreneurs and observed social business solutions in action. See more details about the Interchange on NESsT’s Facebook page.

There are so many reasons to celebrate the first year of this incredible new program: Twelve months of hard work, 1 great university as partner, more than 200 students interested, 40 students participating, 8 social businesses visited in Brazil and Peru, 20 key actors participating as speakers and advisors, 10 social business plans, 6 student winners, and 1 business invited to join the NESsT portfolio.
— Renata Truzzi, NESsT Brazil Country Director