November 9, 2015 Print

Atlas Network was founded with Sir Antony Fisher’s vision of supporting the development and growth of a worldwide network of think tanks, each of them using local knowledge and experience to promote liberty effectively in their own countries and communities. From Oct. 13–16, Atlas Leadership Academy held its Think Tank Start-Up Training in São Paulo, providing step-by-step instructions on how to establish a think tank in Brazil, teaching effective communication and fundraising strategies, and helping the participants acquire tangible skills in a regional context.

Brazil’s military dictatorship ended three decades ago, but the intellectual climate since then has led to statist and populist ideas dominating, explained Rafael Dal Molin, president of the National Council for Atlas Network partner Estudantes Pela Liberdade  (EPL), who participated in the training. This is one of the largest challenges for freedom in Brazil, but libertarian ideas have proven increasingly popular with a new generation of youth.

“EPL had been going through an amazing period of growth in the last two years,” Molin said. “We went from 100 local coordinators to more than 600. This growth, although being very good, has presented new challenges for the organization. We’re at moment when we have to adapt and improve all of our processes and management methods for this new reality. One of our policies is constant and quick change. This is how we’re always able to improve our results and find new challenges. The Brazilian Think Tank Startup Training was key for this new phase of EPL, with specific teachings for areas we had been struggling with and that will help us continue to grow.”

One important strategy to instill the value of liberty in a new generation is to promote the idea that a free economy and individual liberty have historically been the best mechanism to empower the more socioeconomically vulnerable, explained Felipe Melo França, executive director of Instituto Mercado Popular, who also participated in the training. His organization promotes peace, fights poverty and violence, and challenges intolerance toward gender, race, and sexual orientation. Think Tank Start-Up Training has helped him formulate new skills and strategy to move that mission forward.

“The training had a positive impact in three ways for Instituto Mercado Popular,” said Felipe Melo França, executive director of Instituto Mercado Popular. “Firstly, the training has shown us that we need professionalization. This is something we are working on by establishing a management council and by selecting a new full-time CEO. Secondly, regarding the development of a diversified fundraising strategy: we will seek new donors and at the same time develop products that can bring us additional funds. Thirdly, the training helped us get connected with other organization, allowing us to share ideas and contact information, as well as facilitating the division of labor between these organizations.”

Ultimately, efforts to reform government and change policies will be futile, or at least short-lived, if people don’t have a widespread understanding of the value of a free society. Atlas Network partner Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil focuses on promoting these ideas in academia, publishing more than 50 books in Brazil and launching the first libertarian post-graduate program with a university.

“The training substantially helps to develop programs that take down the difficulties of reaching to different demographics inside the country,” said Geanluca Lorenzon, chief operating officer for Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil.