The program Incubadora do Maranhão is an initiative of the NGO Formação that is developed within the Youth Citizen Comprehensive Cluster of Projects, supported by the Kellogg Foundation in Northeast Brazil. Incubadora supports the creation of innovative social, cultural and economic enterprises by youth from the 10 municipalities served by the cluster. In this interview, the Youth Citizen Project coordinator Regina Cabral speaks about the work underway in the region.
What are the goals of Incubadora do Maranhão?
To incubate the ideas of youth, turning them into viable projects. Just as a child born prematurely often needs incubation to gather strength, many good ideas never see the light of day due to the lack of proper backing. Incubadora provides this support.
How many projects are currently being incubated?
We now have 42, involving 230 youth from 10 municipalities in the Baixada Maranhense. They include projects in agroecology, agrotourism, art and services. Before Incubadora, the youth didn’t have much of a concept of enterprise. All they worried about was getting a job with a regular salary. Incubadora is only two years old. To begin with, there were only a handful of projects. They were conceived in the ideas seminars that are organized in partnership with the Youth Forums and the Secondary Education and Professional Training Centers in the region of the Youth Citizen Cluster.
How long does the incubation of a project last?
Two years at most. We dedicate the first six months to developing ideas and designing the project. The following six months are spent on development and technical preparation, while the second year is a direct investment in the enterprise – during which time it is also monitored.
At what point do the projects leave the incubator and fly solo?
We expect them to be ready by the end of the second year. From then on, the incubator assists by lending support to the cooperatives and associations working on the development of the region. The youth are advised to get membership, to obtain the necessary credit to expand their business and to participate in trade fairs and other such events.
What results are already visible?
By mid-October 2006, the most advanced projects will take part in the first trade fairs to present their products, within the territory. However, there is in these 10 municipalities already a sizable movement of youth and their families around the concept of enterprise.
Published in Interaction nº 17