By: Joseph Miller
Facebook launched the Hack Station in Sao Paulo, its first innovation center worldwide and with which it seeks to train programmers and entrepreneurs in Brazil, where 120 million people – half the Brazilian population – access to Facebook every month.
Facebook COO and the world’s seventh most powerful woman according to Forbes, billionaire Sheryl Sandberg, authored an article in one of Brazil’s main newspapers, Folha de São Paulo, highlighting some of the key drivers to open an innovation center in São Paulo called Hack Station:
- Hack Station will be the world’s first innovation center opened by Facebook, according to its own Facebook page. Earlier this year, Facebook helped to open the world’s biggest startup campus: Startup Garage at Station F in Paris, financed by French billionaire Xavier Niel.
- Together with local key partners MadCode, Mastertech, Reprograma, Junior Achievement and Centro de Empreendedorismo e Negócios da FGV, Facebook will offer Brazilians the following number of scholarships in the first year:
- 2,200 for free coding courses
- 1,400 for career guidance workshops for high school students of public schools
- 1,200 for entrepreneur training
- 2,000 digital marketing workshops for small and medium businesses
- 600 innovation workshops for teens
- Facebook is partnering with Artemisia to lead the acceleration of 20 startups with potential to have social impact.
- Since 2015, Facebook has already trained over 200,000 locals together with local partners Sebraeand Rede Mulher Empreendedora. (See: You Must Know THIS Before Investing in Brazil).
- In the first six months of 2017, small companies created over 200,000 new jobs in Brazil. Over 66% of small and medium Brazilian business are on Facebook.
- Facebook did not disclose how much it is investing in this initiative. Estadão estimates it to be around R$6.5 million (or US$ 2.1 million) per year.
This is not Facebook’s first initiative targeting Brazil’s entrepreneurial scene. In March 2014, the company opened an Entrepreneurship Lab for micro and small businesses in the Heliópolis neighborhood of São Paulo and, in December 2015, it announced a similar initiative in Rio de Janeiro favelas in partnership with the NGO Cufa (central union of favelas).
With this innovation center, Facebook also joins a rising trend in Brazil and among companies such as Google, which opened Latin America’s first start-up innovation “campus” in São Paulo.
The Facebook’s regional Vice President Diego Dzodan told the Hack Station, will bridge the gap in Brazil between a tech sector hungry for skilled talent and an eager but untrained generation with time on their hands. “You’ve got people without a job, so they can’t afford training. And yet there’s so much demand for positions that the market can’t fill”, explained Dzodan.
“Hack Station” would draw on lessons from outreach projects like the Startup Garage in Paris, opened by Facebook in January, but was tailored to Brazil. For example, the Sao Paulo space offers workstations and mentoring for entrepreneurs focused on projects with social impact.
The initiative is one of several in Sao Paulo where major firms are making the most of a tech-savvy subculture — and a slump in the commercial real estate market — to create branded spaces for innovation in Latin America’s biggest business hub.
Joseph Miller is a freelance writer with experience in reporting about finance/business, economy and entrepreneurship