Projects boost entrepreneurship of black women in Bahia; Cacho de Fibras serves clients looking for specialized services for cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair)

Setre apoia o empreendedorismo de mulheres negras. Foto: Camila Souza/GOVBA

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Note from BW of Brazil: The concept is actually quite simple. If black women are the ones buying the product, why shouldn’t it also be black women who own the salons and make the profits? It makes perfect sense. How many times have seen a situation in which someone or a group of people outside of the community or group that it serves receives all of the profits? How many times have you witnessed a situation in which the entrepreneur from outside of the community or group he/she/it earns receives most of his/her/its money from such group or commununity and said entrepreneur or compnay totally disrespects the group or community in which they earn their profits? I’ve seen it more times than I’d like to admit. 

In Brazil, we are only recently begin to see the emergence of an Afro-Brazilian entrepreneur class that targets the Afro-Brazilian community and sells products specific to this community. And with a new pride having emerged of having kinks, curls and coils, there is a huge demand for products for women whose hair is not straight.

This market goes far beyond simply the concept of race as, due to centuries of miscegenation, there are perhaps millions of women in Brazil who define themselves as “brancas”, or white women, but having the roots of their hair textures that don’t trace back to only Europe. According to one study, 70% of Brazilian women declare that they have a texture of hair from kinky to curly and as about 54% of Brazil’s population defines itself as preto ou pardo, meaning black or brown/mixed race, just imagine how many heads that totals in a country of about 210 million people.

Historically Bahia, located in the northeast, was one of the major entry ports of Africans arriving in Brazil during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and as such, Bahia has one of the largest concentrations of African descendants in the country. The capital city of Salvador, affectionately referred to as “Black Rome”, is often promoted as the “blackest capital city in the Americas”.  But anyone who knows anything about the power structure in Bahia knows that the people who run this state don’t look like the majority of the people, which is why there is so much commotion of a record-breaking number of black candidates running for mayor in the capital city. With this in mind, it’s only fitting that black women should able to capitalize on their work that serves a clientele of largely black women. 

discussion table on the challenges of afro entrepreneurial enterprises
Discussion table on the challenges of Afro- entrepreneurial enterprises

Projects boost entrepreneurship of black women in Bahia

With information from Jornal da Mídia and Bahia.gov.br

Businesswoman and braid stylist Anna Telles started braiding hair at the age of 13 and today she carries out the activity professionally in three of her own salons, directly employing more than ten people. Salão Cacho de Fibras’s first franchise has been in the Liberdade neighborhood since 2014 and serves clients looking for specialized services for cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair).

The young businesswoman reveals that she had an important incentive to participate in a professional hairdressing course offered by Qualifica Bahia, an initiative of the State Secretariat of Labor, Employment, Income and Sport (Setre). Since then, her business has grown a lot. In the three beauty salon units, an average of 30 clients circulate every day.

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The first franchise of the Salão Cacho de Fibras was implemented in the Liberdade neighborhood in 2014

Anna explained that the main differential of her work is the ability to change the aesthetics of her clients without harming their natural hair. For this, in addition to employing the braiding technique in 3D, she has developed a specific product for cabelo crespo, of which she already has the patent. According to her, the Qualifica Bahia course marked an important career transition.

“The course unlocked me so that I could make my activity a business. I tended (to customers) at home and didn’t think it was so important what I did. It was in the course that I could understand the professionalization of my work. After the course I opened my first salon. As a black woman, having had this opportunity makes me have an obligation to act to empower other black women. I want to be this person who can empower other lives,” she said.

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With the objective of offering opportunities for black women and the African descent community, Setre prepared and carried out the Edict for Support to Solidarity Enterprises of African Matrix, which included the initiative of the entrepreneur and doctor in Development and Environment, Sueli Conceição, founder of the Botica Rhol store, located in the historic Pelourinho district.

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Products from 17 candomblé temples in the capital city and the metropolitan region of Salvador (RMS) are sold at the location. Whoever goes to the space will find accessories, clothes, soaps produced from palm oil, leaf baths, among other products that are part of its own line of natural cosmetics. Sueli guarantees that the public edict was fundamental for the production of the terreiros. “I consider that this was an unprecedented action, the African Matrix edict. When Setre issued this edict, it promoted and stimulated the social protagonism of the people of traditional communities. Solidary economy public policies are important for an entire production chain that ensures the livelihood of thousands of families who can market their production,” she said.

Public policy

According to Setre, the African Matrix edict was launched in 2014, with a duration of two years, renewable for another 24 months. During this period, BRL $ 9 million were invested and 54 projects were contemplated. Qualifica Bahia offers activities on a yearly basis, and a new cycle of vocational courses is underway. In 2019 alone, 3,320 people will benefit from the program in 93 Bahian municipalities.

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One thing the Salão Cacho de Fibras (salon) and Botica Rhol have in common is management by black women, which, according to Setre Secretary Davidson Magalhães, is the result of a public policy strategy. “These endeavors are very efficient and give women the possibility to build their own economic alternative, as well as helping to strengthen their families, because their financial and economic empowerment reflects on family ties. We have several resources extended by the entire state of Bahia, including quilombola ventures, in the area of entrepreneurship inclusion. Besides being very positive, it allows economic insertion and improves labor, employment and income indicators in Bahia,” he said.

About Marques Travae 3238 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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