“We formed the cooperative to help empower women in this community.”

Janete and her family live in Salgueiro, a community in the São Gonçalo city in Rio de Janeiro. Many women in this poverty-stricken community scavenge local trash dumps to support and feed their families. In 1999, Janete started caring for children of these women during the day – children who were often ill from expired food they were fed from the trash dump. Recognizing the desperation around her, Janete made a decision to help empower these women who lacked the skills and education necessary for a sustainable livelihood.

With an entrepreneurial vision, Janete, a talented seamstress, founded the group ‘Mulheres do Salgueiro,’ translated in English as ‘Women of Salgueiro.’ Her program trained women to be shop owners and artisans and productive, income-earning seamstresses using material made from recycled packaging.

Seeing how her own business savvy and strong desire to help could impact her community, Janete bought a building in 2006 with the help of a local non-governmental organization (NGO) to house a cooperative where she could further develop her training programs. With the goal of placing importance on the value of women in Salguerio, Janete dedicated herself to help rebuild the self-esteem and confidence these women had lost throughout the years.

In 2011, The Coca-Cola Company’s 5by20 initiative and Coletivo program partnered with Janete and her group to help provide the women of Salgueiro with additional opportunities. With the support of 5by20 and Coletivo, Janete expanded her programs to provide local artisans access to design skills training to help them develop a range of handcraft items, often made from recycled packaging, and to provide young women access to business training to help prepare them for their first formal jobs.

Janete and her ‘Mulheres do Salgueiro’ organization have helped more than 500 women. These women are now able to provide for their families and are contributing to their local communities and local economies, while inspiring others to do the same.