Defending the Path Out of Poverty
Sons of Liberdade
The future of freedom in Brazil may rest in the hands of a trio of friends.
Nycollas Liberato, the executive director of Students for Liberty Brasil, describes working alongside his amigos—Operations Director Yuri Quadros and Student Outreach Associate Giovanni Justino Oliveria—as a “treat” and a “mix of business and pleasure.”
Since its early days, Students for Liberty Brasil has been the local host of the annual LibertyCon in Brazil, where Nycollas, Yuri, and Giovanni welcome about 800 of their fellow friends and allies with discussions on classical liberal topics and networking opportunities for activists in the freedom movement.
Beginning in 2018, the team expanded its focus to bridging the divide between the country’s academic and industry leaders, by inviting entrepreneurs to speak on college campuses, where free enterprise is not often given a welcome reception.
“They tend to fight us because we are defending that the path out of poverty is entrepreneurship,” Giovanni said.
Investing in the Future
University campuses aren’t the limit of Students for Liberty’s outreach activities in Brazil, though. The team has also expanded its organizing efforts in favelas—low-income neighborhoods in Brazil’s cities, where they have supported initiatives to improve property rights and protect the freedoms of entrepreneurs, even producing a virtual reality film with Atlas Network about the economic aspirations of favela residents in São Paulo.
These achievements earned Students for Liberty Brasil a place in Atlas Network’s Smart Bets program. Each year, 10 Atlas Network partners with ambitious plans who are punching above their weight are selected for additional investments, coaching, and mentorship. Smart Bets are also invited to compete for the chance to pitch their projects at the annual Investors Summit for Liberty in New York City.
“Joining Smart Bets was a great opportunity to not only gain funds but to network with a lot of people and have new opportunities to know the pro-liberty movement in and outside of Brazil,” Nycollas said.
The Smart Bets pitch competition was the first time Nycollas had ever delivered a pitch entirely in English.
“I was very, very nervous and it was very complicated for me because of all the projects that we have that are Smart Bets,” Nycollas said. “This was an opportunity for them to pay attention to Brazil and the work that we’re doing in favelas and with students.”
Nycollas pitched an online course teaching entrepreneurship and classical liberal principles, including private property rights, with the goal of reaching 10,000 students. In turn, Students for Liberty Brasil aims for the course to become a pipeline for future student leaders and activists.
Investors in New York clearly liked Nycollas, Yuri, and Giovanni’s plan. Students for Liberty Brasil took home the top pitch competition prize of $50,000. The team is also currently competing for the $25,000 Smart Bets Impact Award, which goes to the most impactful Smart Bets organization in the year following their pitch.
Standing Out from the Crowd
Despite the continued growth of the freedom movement in Brazil, groups like Students for Liberty Brasil face many challenges from both the left and the right of the country’s political leadership.
“Brazilian society has this problem that they always go for the populist strongman and don’t tend to think for themselves,” Nycollas said. “They believe that they should run to the big promises and the big results that these guys promise they can provide, but can’t.”
But by making long-term investments in the country’s young people and working-class communities, the team from Students for Liberty Brasil is nonetheless changing hearts and minds. They say assistance and professional development resources from Atlas Network have been crucial ingredients to their success.
“Every time we partner with Atlas Network, we have the same result,” Yuri said. “We are able to go further than we imagined at the beginning because of their support.”