Small food businesses show potential at the festival

O Rock in Rio, as one of the biggest music festivals in the world, gives great visibility to artists and musical styles in an innovative way. But the event is not only made of hits. The structure set up in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Park will also show the potential of small companies in the food industry, which are part of the gastronomic circuit during the seven days of the festival.

For the second time, the organization of the event made a partnership with the Sebrae-RJ to take businesses from the periphery to Espaço Favela, an environment dedicated to peripheral carioca culture. This year, 24 bands will perform at the venue, in addition to DJs and dancers from different communities in Rio.

Entrepreneur Cláudia Pereira da Silva, from Pote Bem Estar, was one of the 21 favela entrepreneurs selected to be at Rock in Rio.
Entrepreneur Cláudia Pereira da Silva, from Pote Bem Estar, was one of the 21 favela entrepreneurs selected to be at Rock in Rio. Photograph: Rossana Fraga

The union between the two began in 2019, when the space was first incorporated. “Sebrae-RJ has been working to strengthen entrepreneurs in the favelas since 2010. We started in the city of Rio and expanded to the Baixada. Because of the history, they came to us for the partnership and in 2022 we are repeating this success”, says the institution’s analyst, Juliana Oliveira.

Based on this work with entrepreneurs, the team curated and, after an evaluation panel, reached 40 companies. In this first stage, the products were tasted and the production process was also taken into account, the history of the enterprise, whether it had a regularized CNPJ, health surveillance documentation and authorization license up to date.

Juliana explains that owners received training on what it is like to participate in large events as a supplier, food handling and management. Afterwards, they had to make a pitch, in which entrepreneurial behavior and communication power were evaluated, for example.

Finally, 21 companies from 18 communities, including bars and restaurants, were selected to be at Rock in Rio. During the entire month of August, they received consultancy and entrepreneurial training, including on marketing.

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“Sebrae-RJ set up an industrial kitchen for entrepreneurs to produce there, following food safety standards, and all of them were prepared to be at Rock in Rio and other large events as suppliers”, reinforces Juliana.

Breaded banana, banana peel and spices from Pote Bem Estar, a company from the outskirts of Rio that will be at Rock in Rio 2022.
Breaded banana, banana peel and spices from Pote Bem Estar, a company from the outskirts of Rio that will be at Rock in Rio 2022. Photograph: Rossana Fraga

According to her, many of these entrepreneurs prepare meals in the kitchen at home, which is why this support is so important. This is the case of Cláudia Pereira da Silva, owner of Pote Bem Estar, who will be at Rock in Rio for the first time through this partnership with Sebrae. Alone, she runs the venture, which was born in 2014 because of her need to eat better.

“I started producing pot salads and saw a business opportunity. I made a partnership with gyms in the neighborhood and for other people”, says she, who is from the Rio das Pedras neighborhood. In the beginning, the entrepreneur reconciled the business with a store that she had for ten years in the community of Rio das Pedras. After a break, she resumed her gastronomic activity in 2018.

“With this opportunity at Rock in Rio, we will be able to improve, because it is giving visibility to small entrepreneurs and people who live in communities”, he adds. In the first stage of the selection, she presented a banana peel sandwich that, according to her, “was highly praised” and will be served on the days of the event.

For Cláudia, participating in this great music festival is showing the strength of small entrepreneurs and the favela. “Rock in Rio is, without a doubt, one of those unique and necessary opportunities in the sense of valuing the work of small entrepreneurs and the work of the community, which is all very difficult. So, an event like this, and the Sebrae that trains us, manages to give visibility to these people”, she says.

The Sebrae-RJ analyst reinforces this view. “Entrepreneurs, especially from favelas, need this support, these perspectives, opportunities. We understand that the knowledge and talent they have, they just don’t get guidance. With our guidance and their potential, we have been very inclusive, transformative and impactful for the whole of society.”

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All products from the selected entrepreneurs will be sold at the Espaço Favela bar, run by Rock in Rio, which created it next to the stage setting, explains Juliana. “The collaborative kitchen in which the entrepreneurs carried out the entire production was set up and funded by Sebrae-RJ.”

If the Rock in Rio audience is demanding with the line-up, they are also demanding with the food. For those who have stopped eating animal products, have any dietary restrictions or are flexitarian, Açougue Vegano stands out as the 100% vegan network of the festival.

The company debuted at the event in 2017, a few months after being launched on the market. And as a characteristic of the Brazilian entrepreneur, the partnership took place through the initiative of the founding partners Celso Fortes and Michelle Rodriguez.

“We sent them an email, presenting the operation, the idea, the concept. We didn’t even know about the structure costs and they believed in us”, says Fortes.

Celso Fortes and Michelle Rodriguez, founders of Açougue Vegano, took the initiative to participate in Rock in Rio in 2017 and will be in the 2022 edition.
Celso Fortes and Michelle Rodriguez, founders of Açougue Vegano, took the initiative to participate in Rock in Rio in 2017 and will be in the 2022 edition. Photograph: Ana Branco

That year, the network was in an enclosed space with limited public access. Now, the return will be in the Rock District, an outdoor space, next to great restaurants. After five years, the duo still reaps the rewards of having participated in the event, which opened the door to franchise contracts and new customers, who refer to the festival when visiting a store.

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Today, Açougue Vegano has 12 points of sale and is preparing to open a second factory, aimed at the gluten-free product line, in addition to increasing the current industry. “At the event, you have the opportunity to have your gastronomy tasted by people who would be very difficult to reach”, comments Fortes.

For the edition that starts this Friday, the 2nd, the entrepreneur expects to earn more than R$ 1 million over the course of every day of the event, having daily access to about 100,000 people. The company invested R$ 500 thousand in the structure, which is three times larger than the first and will have 50 employees.

He points out that this is also an opportunity to generate employment. According to the rules of the festival, participating restaurants must sign the work permit of those who will perform on the day. “We can audition and if the person performs well at the festival, then they can be hired at one of our stores.”

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