Zebras Unite
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Zebras Unite

Zebras in the Wild: Felipe Franco | Chapter Lead Sao Paulo, Brazil

With our series “Zebras in the Wild”, we are excited to take you on a journey around the world to meet founding members, chapter leads, co-op members and allies! We talk to Zebras in the wild and report back how they’re challenging the status quo, how they envision the future and how we can support them in their mission!

I sat down to talk with Felipe Franco to talk about

  • Using business and profit to re-distribute social security
  • Increasing the quality of life for all Brazilians, and
  • Felipe’s role in driving that change.

Read the highlights from my interview with Felipe:

A Zebra is…

… a new way to think about business models in a far more balanced way between profit and social impact.

Those who create value don’t benefit from it

I live in Sao Paulo, the biggest and one of the most diverse cities in Brazil. I work in the gig economy and the issue I see is that there’s no social protection for gig workers. It’s horrible because I already worked at a unicorn startup and tried to solve this problem.

In 2014, I found out I was about to be a father. As an autonomous worker, my income was variable and unstable and, quite frankly, Iwas afraid I wouldn’t be able to provide for my daughter and growing family. So I took a job at a unicorn startup, a delivery service made up of motorcyclists. All the value that the startup created was thanks to those drivers, but they weren’t reaping the benefits that I had such as healthcare, access to quality education for their children, etc. And when I looked at other competing companies, the reality was even worse. I wanted to change that. They had few rights, no social security and were already coming from very vulnerable groups within our society.

That’s what led me to create Autono.me, a socially responsible delivery service that guarantees fair wages and benefits for our drivers and their families. We generate 2.2x more income per delivery for all of them, insure each courier with life insurance and set up a social impact fund to help families recover income if the courier dies. In general terms, autono.me generates more revenue, protects those involved and reinvests a good part of the resources in gamifications that educate, protect and elevate communities

A vision of basic social security for all

I want to live in a world in which even our most vulnerable citizens have basic social security and are able to provide for their families. I believe that once we as a society start supporting each other on such a fundamental level, we can lift Brazil as a country to a higher quality of living. After all, money is not just for survival. If well balanced and with proper financial education, we will all be able to have money to fulfill our dreams and reinvest in our purposes.

Felipe’s role in creating change

I realized that if I wanted to build a more responsible business, I would reinvest my profits into the social impact we were creating. This was a novel idea to me then. Once I found out about Zebras Unite, I understood that creating impact and profit were not as crazy an idea as I initially thought. I felt like I had found my people and wanted to meet more like-minded Zebras. That’s why I launched the Sao Paulo chapter.

What does support look like?

In the Zebra community we have several communication channels, all members, including the founders, are accessible at all times.

The exchange of ideas is rich, every suggestion is considered, we are building a solid, global and replicable ecosystem!

Felipe asks the community…

The biggest challenge for anyone looking to invest in social impact is looking for people who share their values ​​and purpose.

What and how do you attract talent, mentors and investors?


Everyone should connect with Claudio Dipolitto at Social Innovation Atelier!




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Anika Horn

Anika Horn

Ecosystem builder for social change. Founder at www.socialventurers.com Meet me over at www.anikahorn.com for all things social enterprise!