A little over ten years ago, in the Capão Redondo neighbourhood in Sao Paulo’s Southern outskirts — one of the most deprived areas of the city — the Fábrica de Criatividade (Creativity Factory) project was born. Created by the entrepreneur Denilson Shikako, 34, the innovation consultancy was established in 2007 and to this day operates in the same headquarters. Currently serving large companies in Brazil, it still maintains social projects in the region, always aiming at creating and transforming. The Creativity Factory is an example of what can be achieved by more sustainable capitalism focused on fighting against inequality and advancing opportunities, especially for the most marginalized.
A little over ten years ago, in the Capão Redondo neighbourhood in Sao Paulo’s Southern outskirts—one of the most deprived areas of the city—the Fábrica de Criatividade (Creativity Factory) project was born. Created by the entrepreneur Denilson Shikako, 34, the innovation consultancy was established in 2007, and to this day operates in the same headquarters. Currently serving large companies in Brazil, it still maintains social projects in the region, always aiming at creating and transforming. The Creativity Factory is an example of what can be achieved by more sustainable capitalism focused on fighting against inequality and advancing opportunities, especially for the most marginalized.“The world is different on the other side of the bridge.” One of the most well-known verses by the rap group Racionais MCs shows the reality of contrasts in São Paulo. While, on one hand, the Southern region is home to Morumbi, one of the city’s most privileged neighbourhoods, on the other hand, there is Capão, which was once considered one of the most dangerous regions in the world. Shikako’s family was one of the victims of this unequal reality.
In 2000, his father was murdered. Following this tragedy, the middle-class family sold everything they had and moved out of the country to take care of a relative’s business in the United States. However, it was from this loss that Shikako found inspiration to contribute to change in the neighbourhood, doing what eventually became a lifelong project for him: seeking creative solutions to overcome difficulties and expand opportunities.
“After this tragedy, my family moved away, took off some time, and returned. I already had the desire to create a social project, and came up with the idea of building the Factory. We need to take steps to change our reality, otherwise, nothing will happen. Our interest has always been to create a sustainable project that gives this idea and money to people,” says Shikako. Soon after the concept was consolidated, work began with the help of various partners.
The concept of creativity and the reuse of materials have been incorporated into every detail, including the design and construction of the building where the Factory is located. There are, for example, doors made with marble, a “human foosball” court, walls with secret passages, and slates on the washroom walls, where anyone can write their thoughts and leave messages.
Everything is different and functional in a space that also became home to the first Cultural Center in Capão Redondo, with a theatre and spaces offering a range of creative workshops. Around one thousand people a month benefit from these services, offered free of charge or at affordable prices, through the Friends of the Creativity Factory Association. “My mother remembers something. I wrote something in fourth grade where I said I wanted to be an inventor. I wanted something really revolutionary, in the middle of Capão Redondo. The plan was to create a place offering for people ideas and, at the same time, could generate income for them.”
In one of these activities, Shikako recalls the story of a boy. The children had to express, through drawing, what they would like to be in the future. The boy then took the pencils and drew an image of a child during a mugging, wielding a weapon in his hand. After this, there was a need to work on raising awareness and possibilities for this child.
“Our goal is to awaken the idea that innovation and creativity open paths, possibilities, changing lives like this. Through art, we can create the awareness of seeking something new and, consequently, offer opportunities,” says Shikako.
The idea began by valuing and creating a space for change in a neighbourhood that transformed and became one of the best-known innovation consultancies in Brazil. Large companies such as Natura, Danone, and Rede Globo are among its clients. For Itaú (Brazilian bank) the co-development of the organization’s innovation project resulted in actions such as a flash mob that brought around 5,000 employees together.
Another project created for the cosmetic company, Mary Kay, is “Our Monday is the best” with the program “Thank God. It’s Monday”. For a year, every Monday, the company’s call-centre operators had different activities involving different perceptions of senses encouraging creativity and coexistence. Several of these projects generated videos and texts that can be found on the consultancy website.
One of the highlights of the Factory’s work is its motto, which is a phrase by Shikako himself: “You miss 100% of the pitches you do not do.”
It is an ode to human potential in face of the transformations the world is undergoing. The Factory is introduced to the projects proposed by the companies and teams of professionals in areas such as marketing, engineering, design, advertising, and publicity. Together, they develop actions encouraging employees and managers to innovate. The idea is to always stimulate creative thinking. The project has already carried out around 700 training sessions, 400 consultations, and more than a hundred projects across all branches of companies.
“Our work is empowering people, showing them the ability to be creative. You need to be aware of what you are capable of and feel free to innovate. We show techniques that provide this. All of this results in the construction of an integrated and creative company. Creativity changes the world. We want to awaken and transform people,” says Shikako.
The success of the Creativity Factory has already expanded beyond the bridge separating Capão from the rest of the city. It has put itself on the map. “Capão is our Silicon Valley. We can have an even funny headquarters comparing to Google!”, says the entrepreneur, laughing. The space has been used many times for meetings and presentations inspired by nature. Worldwide famous bands like hip-hop group, The Black Eyed Peas, have already performed there.
The space has also hosted United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) meetings. With such recognition and expansion, it grew and needed new units. The consultancy, known as the world centre of technology and innovation, is now in Silicon Valley, and also in Canada. It never, however, forgot its origins and purpose. Projects like this are timely initiatives; they start very small, from the idea of someone who believes in human beings. However, they carry with them the ability to have a long-term impact by acting early in life for young people, even in childhood. They become, therefore, an educational construction activity, resonating with people in this century, and those centuries that are coming.
By Mario Quintino
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