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A few months ago I started doing the occasional piece for an Indian blog called Mahindra Rise.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to what it was. The editor was the son of a friend and I was happy to write stories for him.

The important thing was that the subject matter interested me, writing about people or products or anything else loosely related to the term Rise.

I took it as a way to write about worthy issues in Brazil that would be a hard sell elsewhere.

I’ve done three pieces for them so far. The third came out last week and is about Valdenor Freitas, a lovely little guy who has built up a nice business for himself on the outskirts of São Paulo.

Freitas (pictured, right) is a hard worker but without small loans he wouldn’t have been able to build up his café-bar business and then open a small supermarket.

I got an email this morning telling me that the Mahindra Rise just won the Best Blog of the year award at the Web Advertising and Technology Awards ceremony, which aims to “recognize and felicitate agencies and professionals who have achieved ground breaking work in the Indian digital space.”

So congratulations to them and all the RISE writers. Follow RISE on twitter at @ MahindraRise.

If you have any interesting suggestions for blog topics in Brazil, please drop me a line. Contact information is above.


Going to the Amazon is always brilliant fun and I particularly love Manaus because it is so unlike any other place I’ve ever been.

Manaus houses built on stilts at the side of the River Amazon (Solimões)

It’s a concrete jungle of almost 2 million people stuck there right in the middle of a real jungle. Just getting there is a four-hour flight from São Paulo.

From a small outpost that got rich on rubber at the end of the 19th century, Manaus has grown and grown and grown and it keeps on expanding into the rainforest as if on some quixotic attempt to dominate nature.

I went there last month to write a piece on distance learning which you can see here.

Manuas to me is summed up in that constant battle between man and nature.

A few years ago I visited a factory in Manaus’s free trade zone that made cell phones. The factory had been built on the edge of town and you could see the thick expanse of trees over the wall that surrounded the property.

The struggle between concrete and forest had made its mark. The factory had a room filled with wild animals the employees had found inside the grounds. On each shelf there were bottles filled with snakes, scorpions, spiders and other frightening creatures.

Man had taken over their patch and they had died trying to take it back.

It’s the same in the city itself. The jungle is constantly fighting to win back space. Every vacant lot quickly becomes overgrown with trees and flora. Even the spaces between paving stones sprout with grass.

That’s Manaus.


The son of an old correspondent friend asked me if I would write stories for a blog he was editing for India’s Mahindra group.

The blog is entitled RISE and it features stories from around the world grouped around that broad theme.

My first piece from Brazil was this one, about the recycling project organized by the Light electricity company in one of Rio’s most iconic favelas.

It’s a topic I am passionate about and am already working on my next piece, about a Northeastern immigrant to São Paulo who has built up his own business with the help of small loans.

It’s an inspiring tale and with credit more readily available it is one that is not as rare here as it was a few years ago.

If you are in Brazil and think you have any good examples that would fit under the theme RISE then drop me a line with the details at:

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