Mozaiko 3 comes to Rio!!

André Malherio the Local Leader of IxDA – Interaction Design Association South America in Rio de Janeiro invited the third and final edition of Mozaiko to Rio on June 20th. Eduardo from Voël and myself welcomed a group of 12 individuals from business, design and entrepreneurship to gather at Comuna in Botafogo, Rio. It was an ideal location in Rio, centrally located with an in and outdoor space with a relaxed atmosphere, plus they made amazing food for the day – I found myself eating Nigella Lawson cookies!

I know that design thinking as a mindset is quite new to companies in Brazil, and the night before the workshop I was asked to do a presentation to an audience of people with an interest in social innovation. When André introduced me he put into perspective how new the program really is. From my point of view, Mozaiko is an initiative to solve the problems that really matter to people in Brazil by turning their solutions into social businesses, but André saw that not only is the concept of design thinking new, but that applying it to the fostering of social entrepreneurship was a step further. From his point of view he was very interested to see how the Mozaiko team captured insights in context from real people out in Rio, and formed them into social business ideas in just one day.

I have always known that context is important, but I never realized just how important it was until my work on Mozaiko. I realised when analysing the data from the first and second Mozaiko workshops that because I don’t have the knowledge of the context that Voël have, without their help to synthesise the insights, my own synthesis would have been very general and not shown the deep understanding that can come from using design thinking approaches –  having the knowledge of the context is key. So in the third workshop it was important that I made all the participants aware that they were co-researchers and co-analysers, and that whoever was investigating a context would carry on and translate their insights into a social business idea – making the session more focused, and getting the participants involved in more of the work!

So using similar tools as before, we took three groups to the local street market, the favela, and a street that was close by to capture insights about what mattered to the local people. In Belo Horizonte and Recife the participants had found it easy to engage with people on the street, however this was not the case in Rio where the participants found it hard to get people talking. This was a reminder that Brazil includes people from many different cultures – one thing I did learn about the favela (and this comes back to context again) was that each different favela in and around Rio has their own problems and one single solution cannot cover them all.

From this insight we created the wall of possibilities, creating What-If’s with the whole group.  In the local market they had found that good produce was being thrown away unused, the sellers did not come together as a community of businesses, and there was no formal support for business development. Most of the favelas began at the foot of massive hills and spread upwards over time in a chaotic manner, without any infrastructure or utilities. Because of this, the residents of the favelas are keen to become more self-sufficient so that they do not have to keep travelling the long distances up and down the hills to access services.

When Mozaiko participants talked with people on the streets of Rio, they found there was a lack of engagement from elder people in society and lots of problems with traffic. For each context that the participants engaged with over the day, they summarized insights and created their own questions (see below) from which to develop a new service or system for the local community they had ventured into.


By the end of the day we had three new social business ideas for the local community. The first idea was to create a whole new ecosystem from the market waste products by presenting them in a food show or turning them into new products to generate money, that would then be fed back into the market itself – with the idea of turning it into a really well-known market and then providing the stallholders with business support and advice.

I found the idea of developing an ecosystem for the local market so interesting as, although it was more complex to get to the solution, the idea would get all the stakeholders gathered together so they can deliver more value in a sustainable way. Also I found it interesting that the team had started to use a customer journey map – they did this because they could not say what the customer experience would be, as they were not sure of the end service yet, so they started to map the touchpoints they would need to build and prototype the ecosystem in order to bring the right parties together (see image below).

The second business idea was to develop a brand and identity for the whole favela so that people would be drawn to the area, rather than feeling ashamed of living there. The third business idea was to help the carers of older people to reengage with their communities through an interactive watch that connected them with people in their area.

Again it was another insightful experience working with Mozaiko and it was great working with such interesting people. Reflecting back on my time with Mozaiko it has been a personally enriching experience, where I have met and worked with 52 individuals from all different kinds of background, and have seen that they all have a passion for making a difference in Brazil and want to learn new way of achieving this. I have come to understand and appreciate the contexts we have worked in through the insights our participants have gathered – although I don’t full understanding the context of Brazil, I now have a better knowledge of the issues the people there face on a daily basis.

To me having been in Brazil and seen how it is rapidly growing, I can see how initiatives such as Mozaiko are needed – and how Mozaiko itself has been successful at training individuals in a new approach to developing solutions to social problems.  Although it’s still in the early stages, initiatives like this are needed to work alongside businesses and NGOs developing services that look not only to profit, but also to deliver real value by addressing people’s needs – I believe this makes business sense. If you have not read Richard Branson‘s book ‘Screw business as Usual’ it’s a must!. The main thing I took away from reading his book is that people see profit as a bad thing and giving money as a good thing, but Branson would argue that social ventures have to make money to be sustainable. This is the intent for Mozaiko over the next year: to work alongside NGOs in building enterprises that address people’s real needs. I now know that the approaches of design thinking can be used to find people‘s mutual ‘why’ and to identify the value to be exchanged between all parties – I think this is what makes design thinking different, you need to find everyone’s common ground before they start working together. I know Mozaiko has a lot to offer people and will continue to evolve in an organic way as it has done with each edition. I know that Voël have some great plan for Mozaiko in the future that they are starting to put into action – watch this space!

Looking back at my time at Voël, it has been great to provide the team with an initiative that gives them energy, and that they can continue to learn through. Voël’s ‘Why’ is learning, and they founded their company to do social good from the start. Although it is sad for my visit to end, it is really warming to feel that I have not only left them with something they can enjoy but also something that I know they will go on to share with new people, forming new partnerships that will ultimately have a positive impact on the people of Brazil – people I have come to learn are so warm and giving. I have also discovered that, if you want to do social good two of the best places to start are in education and healthcare, and I will pursuing my own ideas on developing educational systems during the next stages of my Walkabout in India with Idiom.

Below is a picture of everyone doing the chicken dance!! Some I will later explain in an exploring post.

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