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ABRINQ Foundation case: Topics: Social Exclusion

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-Define and explain the success of the organization
-Role of social entrepreneur: Values (what he believes in), skills (what he is able to do)
-What surprises you about the Foundation?
-What is common between the strategies? 1) Creating and maintaining partnerships: Complex network of key people: Who Have influence, Who Have the know how, and that can contribute in making a difference in order to change the situation: people across sectors 2) How to keep key people?

Topics: Social Exclusion - Poverty - Discrimination - Equity and Social


Case No. 30: The ABRINQ Foundation

ABRINQ Foundation

Promoting the cause of children in Brazil

It is midnight, July 23 1993, in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Fifty boys and girls are sleeping under doorways of CandelÃ??Ã?¢ria church. A car brakes, some masked men get out and open fire on the sleeping children. ''Seven children and one young adult are killed. Four boys die instantly, a fifth is shot down while fleeing. Three others are abducted in a car; two of them are shot in the gardens of Aterro do Flamengo. A young adult dies from his injuries four days later. Another, Wagnerdos Santos, left for dead, survives a shot in the face. '' This shocking event illustrates the deplorable living conditions of poor children and adolescents in Brazil in the early 1990s, victims of violence and the indifference of society.
The exclusion of poor children is one of the darkest realities of Brazil, a country with glaring contradictions. In 1991, with over 146 million people in 26 states, Brazil is the economic leader in Latin America. A world class Brazil represented by the states of Sao Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul that, ''if they were independent, would be among the 45 richest nations in the world (...). The State of Sao Paulo has a gross national product (GNP) greater than Argentina, and the city of SÃ??Ã?£o Paulo is a megacity with a (...) dynamic financial and business life as well as a very vibrant cultural life''. But also a Brazil that suffers, where more than 40 million people live on less than U.S. $ 50 per month, without sanitation and drinking water that are essential. ''The poorest 20% of the population receive 2% of wealth when 20% of the richest receive 60%'', distressing numbers that rank the country amongst the most unequal countries in the world. In this poor Brazil ''large slums pollute around large urban centers and the favelas of Rio are famous for their rates of crime and violence.'' These neighborhoods are home to millions of marginalized children.

The social exclusion of children in Brazil dates from the early 20th century. According to some specialists, the Brazilian economic recession of the 1980s caused an alarming augmentation of the number of young boys and girls begging in the streets of major cities. Despite early laws on the protection of children's rights with the Federal Constitution of 1988, which anticipates the fundamental principles of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, and the Law on Children and Youth of 1990, which provides universal protection for all Brazilian children, the reality is much darker. There are several reports of this situation, revealing shocking figures such as four children murdered every day in Brazilian cities, and gradually awakens international attention. In 1991, a Brazilian National Congress commission of inquiry counted the murder of 4661 youth under 17 years old between 1988 and 1990. In February 1992, lawsuits are filed against more than a hundred people in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, mostly former police officers and security guards hired by private companies to ''clean'' cities.
At the heart of the problem of street children, we find the high vulnerability of families and communities, many of which are struggling to survive in a context of economic liberalization and growing inequality. According to Elena Volpi, author of a report by the World Bank,''the problem is rooted in the lack of communication within families and the weakening of social capital. Street children are a warning sign of social development needs and poverty reduction needed to improve the situation of the whole community.''

In 1989, the annual report of UNICEF, 'The Situation of Children in the World', portrays a raw picture of the situation in Brazil: in 41 million young people under 17 years old, 25 million do not have access to education, regular meals, decent housing, to adequate sanitation, not to mention entertainment. They are subject to all kinds of violence; 350 000 children under five years old die every year. 1990 estimates of the National Movement for Street Children ('Movimento Nacional dos Meninos e Meninas de Rua) amounted to 18 million children aged 7-17 years old illiterate, and in 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 10 million children live on the streets of Brazil.

Child labor is another serious problem. In 1989, four million Brazilians under 14 years of age work, making Brazil the largest employer of children in Latin America in absolute terms - only Haiti and Guatemala have an employment rate of children higher in proportion of the labor force. In addition, work conditions are often dangerous. In the agricultural sector, children work long hours without receiving any form of remuneration, in contact with cutting tools and toxic chemicals, burdened by the weight of heavy loads. The industry offers an equal concern with the use of many children in small family businesses. The shoe industry particularly employs many small hands, which are brought to handle the toxic glue.


The Brazilian government action generally proves ineffective. The Foundation for the Welfare of Minors (FEBEM), founded in 1976, is a deplorable example. In October 1999, an expert on prison conditions, which accompanied a delegation of Amnesty International in Brazil, writes: ''I have to say as clearly as possible that I have never seen children kept in conditions as terrifying. From my point of view, this place should be closed immediately.'' Initially designed as Rehabilitation centers for young offenders aged 12 to 17 who have committed a criminal act, FEBEM units were converted into a retrograde Juvenile detention system, violent and repressive. Amnesty International has collected hundreds of teenagers of FEBEM denunciations of torture, abuse and other acts of cruelty towards them. The NGO deplores the lack of adequate training and support, which promotes the development of a culture of torture, abuse and arbitrary punishment by supervisors in centers lacking employees. There is for staff and young interned people nor clear rules nor regulations in the administration of discipline.
It is therefore the constant inefficacity of public policies and the progressive deterioration of the living conditions of young people that eventually cause a response from the civil society. Explicit denunciations of abuse such as FEBEM's demonstrate the urgent need for social reforms.

We cannot wait any longer for authorities to solve the problems.


Oded Grajew was born in 1947 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At the time, the region was still called Palestine. At the age of 12 years old, Oded moved to Brazil with his family and, three years later, after the death of his father, he became the head of the family. Once their diploma in electrical engineer in pocket, Oded and three friends decided to create their company. After several market analyses, they discover that strategy games for teens and adults are all imported and difficult to obtain.
In August 1972, Oded and his friends founded 'Toys and Games Grow' (GROW listing the initials of the names of the four original members), and began their activities in a small garage in Sao Paulo. Their products, ''War'' and'' Diplomacy'' destined for adults, and puzzles destined for children, will become extremely popular for several generations of Brazilians. In only a few years, the craft business becomes a recognized manufacturer. However, the low level of education of a significant part of the Brazilian population limits market growth. Education is indeed a condition 'sine qua non' for game consumers. Lack of education, coupled with low purchasing power of large segments of Brazilian society, hinders the development of sales. For example, a game that sells 24 000 copies in Brazil is considered a commercial success. In comparison, Germany, with half the population, has sales nearly 10 times higher.
In 1989, Oded Grajew gets a turning point in his career. He abandoned the presidency of GROW two years ago and was president of ABRINQ, the Brazilian Association of Toy Manufacturers. He takes note of the annual report of UNICEF, and is affected by the worrying indicators on the health and education of children in Brazil therein. These children, of the same age as customers of GROW games, lack the most basic services, and the portrait that stands the report paints a bleak future for Brazil. Oded begins to reflect on how the professional association ABRINQ and its members could contribute to improve the situation. He says: 'I was born in Israel. The country was fighting for its independence and was experiencing a very difficult situation. Many things were missing, food was rationed... Yet, despite these difficulties, I remember there was a national diction: ''Even though times are tough, children should never live in need.'' Despite the great difficulties which people had to face, children were protected and all their needs met, because they are the foundation of the society. I've never forgotten. The only chance of success for the country (...) is based on attention to its children. Nothing is more important.'

The first support Oded benefits from comes from UNICEF in the person of Cesare Florio La Rocca. In 2001, Cesare will receive a prize from this organization for his work as part of a project for the protection of children and youth in Salvador, in the Bahia State. Extremely responsive to the concerns and ideas of the businessman, Cesare offers him the expertise of the international agency. A strategic partnership is born. UNICEF tasks are clear: contribute to sensitize and to mobilize toy manufacturers and encourage political action to guarantee full rights of poor children and youth.

For his part, Oded meets in 1989 more than 200 industry members of toy manufacturers. A Council for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, whose mission is to bring together the business community and various social actors around the issue of children, is then created within the ABRINQ. The central idea is that ''the responsibility does not rest solely on the shoulders of the government, but on society as a whole.'' The new council begins to organize its activities according to the model proposed by UNICEF. This model focuses on the capacity of Brazilian society to prevent challenges children face, that is to say, to address the causes of their problems, rather than take spot actions to respond. The guiding framework for the activities of the Board is laid, and will serve for the action plan of the foundation established the following year.

The first action of the Board is organizing a photo contest on the theme of children's rights sponsored by a distributor of photographic material. Other projects follow:

-Publication and promotion of the book 'Children and young people in the Brazilian Constitution', with financial support from three major paper producers;

-Printing of the Universal Declaration of Rights of Children on packaging, magazines and comics for children and adolescents with the support of Editora Abril, the largest Brazilian publisher;

-Promotion Campaign for a cure against dehydration over 10 million grocery bags with the support of the leading Brazilian supermarket of the time;

-Launching an awareness campaign for students on rights of the child under a partnership between the Ministry of Education, Culture and UNICEF.

Through these actions, the Board seeks to go beyond charity and philanthropic philosophy and wants to show its determination to find solutions to the problems of children with the help of people they surround themselves with. During 1990, its activities are growing rapidly, so much that its structure needs to be modified. February 13th, the ABRINQ Foundation for children's rights is created, and it differs from the ABRINQ itself. In 1993, Oded leaves GROW to take the lead of this instance.


ANSWER (1989-1993)

About the role of the ABRINQ Foundation for the rights of the child, Ana Maria Wilheim, main administrator of the organization, writes:

'From the outset, it was clear that the ABRINQ Foundation would not engage in charitable or philanthropic activities but rather in activities that are more in harmony with the nature of professional association of manufacturers of toys, which interacts on one side, with suppliers and, on the other, with customers. Thus, the idea of setting up projects to help children and adolescents directly managed by the ABRINQ, such as building schools, health centers or shelters, was dismissed early. It was decided that the association would be active in protecting the rights of children and adolescents engaging suppliers, manufacturers and distributors, organizing their participation in this sense and ensuring their presence.'

The purpose of the ABRINQ Foundation is defined as: ''Make sure of the respect of rights of the child in accordance with national and international standards (particularly the Brazilian Constitution of 1988, the International Convention of the United Nations on the rights of the child of 1989 and the Brazilian Children and Youth Law of 1990).'' Ana Maria Wilheim reports:

'In the beginning, there was no clear prospects. We thought we would learn with time. We had a saying: '' 'Caminante no hay camino', 'se hace camino al andar''' which means ''The walker has no path he opens the path by walking.'' Today, in retrospect, we see that we were in the right direction.'

The Foundation carries out its work in fulfilling what it was already successful in doing as part of the Protection Council, itself inspired by UNICEF. The International Agency applies its model of articulation in the activities of the Foundation: it collects data, commands studies and analyzes the information, and identifies eventual violations of child rights and denounces them in the media, toward opinion leaders and toward federal and local governments. It also organizes conferences, workshops and debates, and publishes many papers on the subject.

Using this model, the Foundation selects specific themes that serve as guidelines for its programs: protection of rights, health, education and culture, child labor, family and community. Between 1990 and 1993, the articulation of themes is done mainly through political action and by communication. In terms of political action, the Foundation's projects range from the publication of works denouncing the exploitation of children and even advocacy or lobbying in favor of the proposal of the Law on Children and Youth.

The best example of the role of communication is the Prize of childhood which recognizes individuals and organizations who have developed exemplary activities to improve conditions for children in Brazil, awarded annually in November, on the occasion of the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Rights of the Child. The Foundation is responsible for the selection and evaluation of projects -in 2002, 293 organizations have applied-, then announces the winner of the prize over a large public ceremony attended by members of the political and artistic elite of the country. In addition, campaigns are launched to much media attention, such as 'PrÃ??Ã?© natal Ã??Ã?© vida' (Prenatal care is life), to educate pregnant women about the importance of prenatal examinations, and 'DÃ??Ã?¢ para resolver' (A solution exists), a quarterly newsletter touting initiatives undertaken by businesses to help children in need.

The ABRINQ Foundation plays primarily a representational role, acting as spokesman for Brazilian children. However, in 1993, a new project leads them to operate a strategic change in its activities.


The launch of the project 'Nossas CrianÃ??Ã?§as' (Our Children) in 1993 adds to the simple role of representing of the Foundation to those of intermediate and fundraiser. For this project, it identifies and selects trusted institutions acting with children, then mounts a media campaign to encourage individuals and businesses to make monthly donations in money to them. From this project model -on one side, individuals and businesses wanting to help but not knowing how to do; on the other side, trustworthy institutions in need of money but having no expertise to collect funds- merge a new role for the Foundation which then makes the bridge between these two groups. Oded Grajew explains it in April 1998 in a report of the activities of the ABRINQ Foundation between 1990 and 1997:
'Our country has huge financial and material resources, knowledge, skills, people of awareness and goodwill, organizations of civil society engaged in the defense of human rights, companies aware of their social responsibilities. Our proposal is to channel these resources to lacking sectors, to bring together players and to organize networks and associations supporting our causes.'
The success of the project Our children depends on several factors: first, competence of staff of the ABRINQ Foundation; then the partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which provides funds for operations; finally, an extensive advertising campaign, where we see a manager in a suit begging among cars stopped at the traffic light. Spectators are struck and realize to what point children begging in the street have become a sad but mundane reality of everyday life. Given the success of the operation, the Foundation quickly installs a telephone service to collect donations.

The project 'Our children' brings the Foundation to reconsider its mission and to transform both its structure and scope. The public interest requires an effective response. It must thus adopt methods that allow to better manage the project, to sustain its collaboration with certain institutions and especially maintain its role of organization which is respected and first class.

This project also strengthens the relationship with its main partner, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and encourages further reflection on consolidating and expanding of its scope. An organizational analysis is launched in 1994. It emphasizes the importance of creating a fund to centralize donations and increase the monthly budget to ensure the continuity of its activities and improve the quality of its management. It is also recommended to increase staff and expand projects and office space.

During the first two and a half years, the financial support from the Kellogg Project for institutional strengthening allows the ABRINQ Foundation to reformulate its strategy. Thematic fields of action are abandoned in favor of four strategic fields of action: 1) political action; 2) communication; 3) project management; 4) fundraising. The mission is redefined: to create society awareness and mobilization around issues of childhood, promoting the involvement of social organizations and businesses in developing solutions through political action for the protection of children's rights and by exemplary actions that can be reproduced and spread.

Thus, the participation of companies becomes a priority, which is followed by the creation of long-term partnerships with institutions and companies. These partnerships will become the hallmark of the ABRINQ Foundation.

This revision of the mission in 1994 puts the Foundation on the right track for future development of its activities: The program friend of children Company ('Empresa Amiga da CrianÃ??Ã?§a') is launched in April 1995. In the 1990s, with the enactment of the Law on Children and Youth of Brazil and the implementation of the international program for elimination of child labour of the ILO (International Labour Organization), new social movements emerge and business directors are encouraged to engage in the fight against child labor. Deeply concerned about this issue and convinced that ''if companies are part of the problem (by hiring children), they are also part of the solution'', The ABRINQ Foundation creates the label friend of children Company. Distinguishing the businesses not the products -although it is allowed on packaging, advertising and marketing-, this label identifies firms that do not employ children in their production chain and that are committed to improve the future of Brazilian children in need. Obtaining the label is subject to the following criteria's:

1) Make a formal commitment not to hire children under the age of 14, according to the Brazilian law on the minimum age to perform paid work;

2) Make public this commitment especially with its network of suppliers and customers (the company shall not, at any phase of the production chain, derive any direct or indirect benefit of child labor, where the importance to sensitize suppliers);

3) Develop or support a social program for children or a vocational training program for teenagers (this clause reflects the constant concern for the Foundation to address problems uphill).

The program friend of children Company requires a wide range of resources and skills, including a call center to handle inquiries, and trained staff to meet and assist companies interested in the label. Control of the credibility of applicants and the accuracy of the information provided, with the support of players from government agencies and trade unions, is a particularly delicate task. The Foundation's staff is also responsible for the organization of high-profile ceremonies in which labeled companies are publicly recognized. The validity of the label for one year only greatly increases the complexity of the project because the information, activities and the credibility of each company must be audited annually for the renewal of the label.

The program friend of children Company knows a great success, allowing the ABRINQ Foundation to increase international reputation. In 2002, 587 companies were labeled Friends of children and have invested over $ 34 million U.S. dollars in health, education, social assistance and in other projects benefiting children and youth. In recognition for its work, the Foundation was chosen to coordinate the participation of Latin America in the Global March against Child Labour.
This national and international recognition was also reflected by the many 'ad hoc' projects for which the Foundation was requested. Renowned for its efficiency, it has indeed attracted many groups, international organizations and agencies wishing to implement programs to help children and young people using its network and expertise. The project Adopt a smile is an illustration. In 1996, a group of fifteen dentists approach the ABRINQ Foundation to provide free treatment to children and adolescents. In 2002, 20 324 children are able to receive care through some 3 220 volunteer dentists in 185 social centers.
The program Digital Garage is another example of a successful 'ad hoc' program implemented using the Foundation's help. The idea came from Hewlett-Packard Brazil, who, committed to reducing the digital divide by a targeted youth, has made available to them computers with the latest programs. The first edition of Digital Garage attracted 120 young people who learned how to use Windows, Dreamweaver and Photoshop. In 2002, this project won the annual international prize for consciousness in business in the category innovative partnership.


From 1996, the Foundation adapts new strategy to increase the scale of its operations to make its message more effective through a strengthened partnership with the public sector. In the 2000 annual report of the ABRINQ Foundation, Oded Grajew says:

'No exemplary action of an NGO would have the potential to positively change the Brazilian reality if public policies that put the priority on social issues are not set up, because only the state has the size and universality to accomplish such a task. This as always in any country in the world.'

This shift of the Foundation to increased involvement in public policy clearly shines in projects like The Mayor friend of children (1996), Journalist friend of children (1997), and President friend of children (2002). For this latest initiative, the Foundation profits from the presidential campaign to publicly call candidates to engage in a clear action plan, from their entry in duties, based on United Nations goals for children and youth. The commitment of the four main candidates, whose statements have been highly publicized, helped a large portion of civil society to understand the importance of public policy in addressing these problems.


Today, the ABRINQ Foundation is an organization respected and recognized nationally and internationally for its expertise on the issue of children and its social entrepreneurship. It has about 80 full-time employees and over 100 partners to conduct its thirteen programs and projects. It was able to meet the needs of more than 1.1 million children between 1990 and 2003.

Although social indicators in Brazil have been slow to improve, the conviction that a solution will come permeates all actions of the Foundation. If it could not, by itself, change the status of all children and young Brazilians, it has nevertheless managed to be a key player in protecting the rights of the child. Oded Grajew says:

'We sometimes wronged ourselves, other times we were in the right direction. If we had improved the life even if only one child, then it would have been worth it. But we did much more. Our work has shown that problems have a solution and (we feel) the gratifying feeling of having done something for the community. In the future, we would like our mission to continue to guide our actions and our organization to be perceived as an instrument and not as an end in itself. Through our work, we want to be able to evaluate the effects of problems, but, above all, be able to act decisively on their causes.'

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