Digital skills programme to support Brazilian small businesses in areas affected by pandemic


Micro, small and medium businesses are drivers of the economy in Brazil, being engines of job creation and accounting for 99% of all Brazilian companies. Following the health crisis brought by the Covid-19 outbreak in Brazil, a severe economic downturn caused unemployment and reduced families’ income in exposed communities. Providing digital skills and tools to help small and medium entrepreneurs enter the online market, keep their businesses running, or start new activities has become an absolute and urgent necessity in the country.

The Solution

Pearl Consulting supported WhatsApp to develop, in partnership with the Centre for Integrated Studies and Programmes for Sustainable Development (CIEDS), the second-largest Brazilian NGO, the programme Conecta+Brasil, a free online training programme focused on micro, small and medium entrepreneurs, mainly in peripheral areas of the largest Brazilian cities. The programme offered free online training with modules covering WhatsApp Business lessons, finance, management, and digital marketing – becoming the most prominent economic recovery programme in Latin America. With short video modules, Conecta+Brasil was designed to provide a step-by-step learning path with local language and vocabulary, making it easy and accessible even for those without previous knowledge of digital tools.

Steps to success

1. Joining local partners with a broad understanding of entrepreneurs’ needs

Conecta+Brasil targeted the most urgent demands of small entrepreneurs thanks to partners with a deep and local understanding of communities’ needs.

2. Speaking entrepreneurs’ language

With local language and vocabulary, training modules became easy to understand and accessible to a broader audience.

3. Expanding the programme’s reach

To amplify the spread of the programme, CIEDS and WhatsApp partnered with local institutions, like commercial associations, state governments, and city halls, which helped local entrepreneurs access the training sessions.

Two women using a sewing machine together

The Outcome

Conecta+ Brasil tripled its initial goal, training more than 33,000 small and medium entrepreneurs in all 26 States plus the Federal District of Brazil. The programme received public endorsements from public authorities and business organisation representatives and helped WhatsApp foster productive dialogues on entrepreneurship, economic recovery, and business development with Brazilian authorities.

We thank Pearl Consulting for being present in our moment of most significant institutional transformation, seeking not to let go of creating social impact and, simultaneously, targeting the urgencies of a world in accelerated transformation. Thank you for becoming part of the CIEDS`s history. We hope to continue this relationship in the present and future.” VandrĂ© Brilhante, Director-President, CIEDS