A contrast in self-initiated businesses in Brazil and Pakistan.

Maryam Baloch - Brazil


October 21, 2018

A contrast in self-initiated businesses in Brazil and Pakistan.

I not only took handful but also asked my host aunt to pack some freshly baked cookies for me to bring home. The cookie dough is really easy to make but also needs to have the right amount of flour, milk and sugar for an admirable texture and taste. The cookies, like many tiny version of snacks here is extremely small. The tiny mug of café is called cafezinho and so the cookies she makes are called bolachas pequenas (tiny biscuits). After the cookies cool down, the final procedure is to put a tiny piece of gelo to add an extra pinch of sweet but also to make the cookies look more than just baked dough.

My aunt is a 64 year old woman who lives in one story house with three dogs. She has a lot of time to kill since both of her children are old enough to have moved out of her house and begin their own lives. Making cookies not only brings a few reas (Brazilian currency) into the house but also keeps her engaged. I started to see how this time killing activity could turn into a self-initiated business after my host mom asked one of her family friends who owns a padaria (bakery) to experiment with the cookie samples. If he approves, these tiny cookies might find a place in his bakery shelves and so more people will have the access and chance to try them out. Thus being the starts of an innovative self-initiated business.

My aunt’s cookie making is just one of the many home-stay but innovative activities I’ve seen here. The host mom of one of the other fellows is a homestay mom with three children and runs a small business of making colorful bows with various designs and patterns for crianças (children). She also has an Instagram page with multiple pictures of her customers who have not only bought but also adore her homemade bows. This is also a way for her to promote her business to gain more customers. It’s also the case with many people who are passionate about their leisure time activities and want to use that as a source of income. These businesses are pretty common in Brazil and are seen as a prevalent option for many people. However, I see a huge contrast in the way people view self-initiated businesses in my own country Pakistan. The women in the rural areas make traditional handicraft, bedspreads and quilts but the money earned does not usually amount to the effort that is put into the process. These small scale businesses have only been reserved for more privileged class of women who are able to invest some money before watching their business grow. For the former, it remains a matter of financial inadequacy which results in a general disinterest in pursuing one’s passion to make a living. Money and a lot of other social factors discourage people from doing something out of the traditional discourse of finding conventional job opportunities which are already in scarcity due to rising unemployment especially in the government sector. Dissatisfaction in the workplace is another prevalent feeling for many since what they like is not something they can pursue and what they have is not something they like…

Maryam Baloch