Study Shows Favela Residents Use Technology More than Those in the Formal City

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For the original in Portuguese by Alana Gandra published in Agência Brasil click here.

A study launched at the Green Gallery in New York by president of the Data Popular Institute and founder of the Favela Data Institute, Renato Meirelles, shows that favela residents are more technologically connected than those living on the “asphalt,” or formal city. “The number of Internet users is larger in the favelas than in the formal city because, for favelas, the Internet has first of all an income generating function.”

According to the study, presented during the global meeting of the Central Union of Favelas (CUFA), 89% of Internet users in favelas believe that the Internet can help them earn more money and 57% have already increased their income thanks to the Internet.

“During the economic downturn, the Internet is a great ally for favela residents,” Meirelles said in an interview with Agência Brasil. This means that, when the financial situation begins to make life difficult, favela residents turn to the Internet to find a job or to sell things.

To show how technological innovation can be useful for poorer communities, the president of Data Popular recalled a project carried out by Facebook in the community of Heliópolis in São Paulo. The first initiative of its kind to be organized by the North American company, the project taught approximately five thousand small businesses in the favela to use digital marketing for economic development. Through training in digital technology, small business owners can use creativity to increase sales.

On the afternoon of the CUFA Global project launch at the United Nations headquarters, Renato Meirelles presented a study about “a new country” being created in Brazil: “It’s a country called Brazilian Favelas, in which 53% of people have known what it is to be hungry, in which racism still exists and in which police discrimination is common.”

According to Renato Meirelles, the 12.3 million favela residents across the whole of Brazil moved approximately US$19.5 billion in 2015. In his opinion, this stems from the growth of the middle class and the increase in secondary education levels.

For him, favelas make up a country of contrasts: “Due to the recent insertion of favela residents into the consumer market, 2.7 million airplane tickets are bought in favelas but at the same time 2.5 million people still have trouble paying the bills.”