In partnership with Stanford University Design for Extreme Affordability Program and RECODE: digital empowerment NGO

Unemployment and underemployment are huge problems in under-resourced settlement communities in Latin America. We have started tackling the problem in one of the most stratified cities of LatAm: Rio de Janeiro, where 2 million people, more than a quarter of the population, live in favelas, slum communities not officially legally recognized, on about $6 per day. Through a month of deep research within 4 of these communities, including training 30 local co-designers, conducting 320 interviews, and facilitating 4 co-design sessions, we developed a lean, local work center model that operates inside existing, respected NGOs in each community. The Proxim8 local work centers form that missing bridge by connecting residents with job opportunities and apprenticeships and by preparing them to apply and enter the workforce through behavioral, psychological, and professional education. The aim is for the centers to serve as a safe port throughout people’s employment journey, supporting them holistically and tangibly.

Our 3 pilot centers have already connected the first dozens of people to job opportunities, and we hope to have had the first 300 people supported by our 3 pilot Local Work Centers by the end of this year and significantly more growth in 2023. We track people who pass through the centers, types of support provided to them, job placements, and longterm jobs kept. By keeping our local work center model resource-lean and hyper-local, and taking advantage of free educational resources offered by our partner Recode, we achieve a low-cost, sustainable, and scalable model that can be maintained through partnerships with nonprofits, private companies, and government. The goal is to foster exponential productive inclusion with these local work centers serving the residents of each of Rio’s over 600 favelas and the hundreds of millions of people living in similar communities across Latin America.