Nina Silva is an IT expert who embodies all faces of diversity: black, woman and poor. After a burnout, she turned her career around with a purpose driven action. She co-founded the Black Money Movement in Brazil, with her partner Alan Soares, to empower black people, foster education and entrepreneurship, and create business opportunities for the Brazilian black community.
BayBrazil: According to IBGE and SEBRAE, in 2014, there were 25 million entrepreneurs in Brazil and 51% of them declared they were black. What is the black entrepreneur profile in Brazil and what are the main challenges for them to succeed?
Nina: We can say that the profile of Afro-entrepreneurs would be: woman (52%), less than 40 years old (69%), lives in the Southeast (40%) or Northeast (31%), studied until high school (49%) and has a family income of up to R$ 5,000 (37%).
We are the micro-entrepreneurial majority, but we have not solved the problem of unemployment among the black population (67% unemployed in the country), less than 30% of these enterprises have two people working. We are doomed to entrepreneurship out of necessity and not opportunity.
As main barriers, we can point out his lack of perception as an entrepreneur, the lack of access to credit, lack of knowledge about business and financial management.
BayBrazil: How was the “Movimento Black Money” created? How does it work?
Nina: “Black Money” is a movement, created by my partner Alan Soares and I, that emerged to balance power relations in Brazil, with regard to the black population. After all, money is an instrument of power, and there is no need to carry out extensive research to reach this conclusion, just look around to realize that those who have more money have many advantages over those who do not.
Because of the way our society was structured – with the enslavement of African peoples – wealth is concentrated among whites and the money of black people does not circulate long enough in our community for this reality to be changed.
The Black Money Movement was created so that we, blacks from all over the country, have more financial awareness to strengthen our people, facing racism in the most efficient way: gaining power!
The Black Money Movement is a hub for innovation and fostering entrepreneurship with a focus on the black population. The intention is to make the money circulate and stay longer among black people before going into the hands of other ethnic groups, bringing more economic strength to our people.
BayBrazil: Tell us about some of the people who participated in the MBM and how the program positively changed their life.
Nina: The stories are many and diverse. From people who participated in Afreektech – our educational arm – and got jobs. Young people who through our partnerships won scholarships in technical courses and MBAs. Professionals and companies are driven by our educational project, some examples: COLAB Josefinas: Collaborative training, collaboration, and mentoring space focused on women entrepreneurs from the periphery of Rio de Janeiro. Simara Conceição – from our network as a monitor and collaborator, she became multitask, forming as a fullstack developer. Pretaria Collective – collective of black communicologists who graduated from our classes. Brazilian communication, defending, and questioning representativeness under the racial axis. Even some who were employed, after having discovered their purpose, decided to quit their job and undertake what they really believed.
BayBrazil: During the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, how were afro-descendants people impacted? What is the “Impactando Vidas Pretas”(Impacting Black Lives) fund and how does it help those people?
Nina: We are experiencing moments of apprehension, insecurity, and instability. In Brazil, we have hundreds of thousands of people infected, tens of thousands of deaths, especially black people – who have the highest degree of lethality when infected – and an economy undergoing major oscillations.
As you read this text, millions of Brazilians are thinking about how to pay their bills at the end of the month, whether they will still have a job in the future and, in more serious cases, whether they will be able to put a plate of food on the table at home. The COVID-19 crisis served to aggravate the situation of the black community that tops the list of unemployed and lethal victims of the disease. According to data from the health departments, black people have 32% mortality than white people when contaminated by coronavirus.
As we understand the health risks and economic impacts that the coronavirus causes and will continue to cause in this portion of the population, we wish to share the participation of the Black Money Movement with our campaign “Impacting Black Lives”. Impacting Black Lives is an initiative of an emergency nature to assist, preferably, black families led by single mothers and Afro-entrepreneurs, a project of income transfer and promotion, seeking to help families that are unassisted, due to all the quarantine measures and social withdrawal that are being taken.
BayBrazil: How are the current protests on the killing of George Floyd resonating with Brazilians? Is it helping to raise awareness and bring about true change in Brazilian society?
Nina: We are currently surprised how suddenly white people woke up from a deep coma and realized that racism exists. That they hold deep privileges and maintain a brutal structure of violence called racism. However, we are skeptical of structural actions within the Brazilian community. In the United States, for example, Amazon, Netflix, Bank of America, SoftBank, and other institutions have already directed financial contributions to black ventures and projects. In Brazil, until the given moment, companies did not direct money to Impacting Black Lives, all donations were from individuals. And when asked, some leaders commented that they did not address issues such as racism because it was a “split ball”.
BayBrazil: Tell us about yourself and the difficulties you faced in your career that you think was because you are a black woman? What did you do differently from other women that helped you succeed?
Nina: I have been a specialist in digital transformation and international technology projects since 2000. Since the beginning of my career in technology, I faced several challenges and the smallest of them were aimed at professional qualification. I was a person with the face of diversity, black, woman, and poor, at a time when diversity was not so well regarded. At the time, I was not able to absorb very well what was sexism, what was racism, and what was, in fact, a comment about my work exclusively.
I have always tried a lot to achieve perfection in everything I did. And that comes from the fact that all the time, I needed to prove myself capable of myself and for society. At school, I already suffered from this, but when I went to the job market, the fight became more intense and cruel.
I had a burnout due to overwork and lack of purpose in the multinationals I worked for. I moved away from the technology area and moved to New York to study literature while on vacation. I returned to Brazil, opened a salon specialized in curly hair, and broke it in 06 months. I sought purpose in spaces that, however good I have always been, even though I had results above other managers, I was questioned about my presence. When I decided to hand over my experience, knowledge, and effort in favor of black people, I overcame even more what was expected of me and connected my success to the real impact on other people’s lives.
BayBrazil: What are some concrete actions that leaders – both black and white – can put in place in order to enable racial diversity in their workplace?
Nina: Hiring black people intentionally in different seniority levels, not just at entry-level. Understand that most of the time there will be a knowledge gap and this is due to the great racial inequality that exists. So it is the duty of society to create means to overcome it. Pay employees equally, whether black or female. Press your business partners to have programs for hiring black people. Favor black suppliers to be included in the company’s priority list. Buy black. Promote social campaigns based on race. Create racial equity programs with black protagonism.
As you know, BayBrazil annual conference #9 is free of charge but, we are encouraging donations to Nina Silva’s organization.
We thank you ahead for joining this campaign and supporting to bridge the social divide in Brazil.
All proceeds will be sent to Movimento Black Money.
If you prefer, get in touch with them and choose how to contribute. Obrigado!