Colonizing Mars is a neat idea, but Edu Lyra would rather make Earth livable first. Lyra founded Gerando Falcões, a social development ecosystem that accelerates the impact of social leaders in Brazil’s favelas. With the goal of ending favela-based poverty through transformative initiatives that generate long-term results, Gerando Falcões employs education, economic development, culture, and citizenship services to create widespread change. Currently, there are almost 14 million Brazilians unemployed and more than 27 million living below poverty level, which means they survive on less than the cost of a roundtrip bus fare each day. Most of them live in “favelas,” slums at the outskirts of major cities with little government support, and often lacking in basic essentials like running water and sanitation systems.
Like other impoverished communities, conditions in the favelas worsened during the pandemic. And while the virus raged, billionaires with the means to enact incredible change were instead spending their fortunes on space tourism. Accenture Song and Gerando Falcões saw this cultural moment as a unique opportunity to use the backlash these moguls were receiving on social media to launch a public challenge to the world: Let’s eradicate poverty in Brazilian favelas before billionaires can colonize Mars.
While tongue-in-cheek, to a degree, the goal of this initiative was genuine: Some race to dominate space; Gerando Falcões races to end poverty in favelas. Together with Song, the organization set out to generate tangible social and cultural impact with cutting-edge technology—rather than create a bigger gap between the haves and the have-nots.
WHEN TECH MEETS HUMAN INGENUITY
A movement in the metaverse
Song worked with Gerando Falcões to develop an immersive game in the metaverse called “Favela X, the game.” The goal of the game was to give the country’s youth a chance to experience life in a favela, rather than just observe it from the outside. Ideally, this would give them a unique perspective on poverty that could inform their worldview into adulthood.
The team created key visuals in-house but built the game itself within an open-source metaverse platform called Roblox, one of the world’s largest online gaming communities that is completely free to join and download.
In the game, hosted by an avatar-version of Edu Lyra, players explore a six-floor rocket ship placed in the middle of a digital favela. On each floor, they navigate challenges associated with poverty: infrastructure, sanitation, education, culture and technology. On the final floor they reach a control room where they can use what they learned to help improve the favela’s conditions. If they make the right choices, they can send the rocket ship (and poverty) to space.
But how does a free game raise money? Accenture connected with other purpose-driven brands to support and co-create the project and showcase their brands inside the game. The team partnered with Nestlé, 99 (a Brazilian taxi e-hailing app) and the shoe brand Havaianas to build in-game brand experiences. For example, Havaianas has a line of flip flops designed by favela artists and gamers discover those artists’ stories throughout the virtual experience.
To launch the game, the team placed a huge, inflated rocket in a Brazilian favela equipped with computers and phones for children to test drive the virtual rocket and provide real-time feedback. This gave the children exposure to new technology, as well as a new perspective about the reality of their favela and the changes that can improve it.
A VALUABLE DIFFERENCE
Fueling the future of favelas
With Favela X, the game, Gerando Falcões is the first NGO to use the metaverse for social impact. So far, the project has raised $80,000 for the organization and is expected to raise at least $200,000 as it acquires new brand partnerships—which shouldn’t be a moonshot since the campaign has been anything but subtle. Among other things, it featured an image of Edu Lyra dressed as an astronaut, which went viral in Brazil. The press picked up on the movement, and the local affiliate of the largest TV media group in Brazil broadcasted news about the game. This helped educate thousands on the struggles of their fellow Brazilians, raising the collective consciousness to support the cause.
Favela X, the game also garnered celebrity support: One of Brazil’s most famous television presenters Sabrina Sato joined the cause and the game via her virtual avatar. A Brazilian gaming influencer with more than 10 million subscribers also helped spread the message, pro-bono. Currently, the team plans to explore new use cases within the social metaverse—such as launching NFTs to raise money and training kids in favelas how to create their own games within the platform.
Together with Song, Gerando Falcões launched the next generation of social inequity awareness. The team successfully used cutting-edge tech to do more than just satisfy the curiosity of the ultra-wealthy; it helped people envision a future where poverty is an artifact of the past—a goal that’s reachable, not stratospheric.