Case Study Source: The Joint U.S.-Brazil Initiative on Urban Sustainability, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


Rio de Janeiro's entrepreneurial culture is helping the City build a greener economy. From recycling communities to rooftop farmers to bike sharing businesses, Rio de Janeiro has many examples of the potential of innovative, locally owned, sustainable ideas; however, these ideas often remain largely unknown, and few are given an opportunity to scale.

Meu Rio's "Meu Rio+20" will catalyze the development of green innovation projects and help democratize the City's culture of giving and community investment through participatory community decision making. The project combines three types of funding: crowd-funding, micro-philanthropy, and seed funding. Through community outreach and online crowd-sourcing, innovative green business will be identified and placed in competition for funding. Those with the most financial support from the crowd will enter a second phase of competition, where trustees will choose businesses to receive micro-philanthropy grants. These winners will then have the opportunity to receive business development, technical support, media attention, and further financing opportunities.


Community members are invited to workshops designed to educate them about the program and about how they or their business can participate. Through a simple web interface, members register their idea or business and spread the word to others, who then can vote for them via crowd-funding. Beyond the resources they gain through crowd-funding, winners are invited to participate in a workshop with experts to improve their ideas. Winners receive opportunities for increased exposure and potential opportunities for further business development funding.

Projects are prioritized according to the following criteria:

  1. Is there positive local impact?
  2. Scalable: Could it be implemented in other developing urban centers?
  3. Social impact. Does it alleviate suffering?
  4. Does it have a positive environmental impact?
  5. Could this project sustain itself financially?
  6. Is the project novel and non-obvious?


Meu Rio+20 will be the first attempt at fostering a culture of micro-philanthropy in Brazil. The model has proven effective in the United States, Europe, and parts of Asia. For example, the Awesome Foundation has helped fund a number of small business and not-for-profits.

Contact Information

Alessandra Orofino
Phone: +1 (212) 533-4114