Meet the Brazilian startup that is providing freedom for all, to exercise their citizenship rights, despite restrictions on mobility. Eu Vô is one of the 8 social businesses taking part in the third batch of MAN Impact Accelerator program.
Two simple words front this startup - in Portuguese, Eu means ‘I, and VÔ also means ‘Grandpa’ and ‘Go’ - in some way encapsulating its day-to-day simplicity, that is consequently changing people’s lives for the better.
Eu Vô began with a story of two siblings - Victoria and Gabriel Barboza - returning to their hometown in 2015, to be more with their family and mother, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, a disease that affects the central nervous system. With this severe loss of mobility, she lost a sense of independence, depending on her children for all activities - including home activities, walking around a grocery store, or visiting the doctors.
For the able-bodied, it is easy to forget how essential our mobility is to get through the day. There are many individuals who are losing the freedom they desire and deserve. Looking at aging as an example, the elderly now represent 15% of the Brazilian population - a growing demographic facing life changes, that can come with a decline in mobility.
Like many others, Victoria and Gabriel embraced their role as informal carers - to help the one they love feel empowered and connected to society. However, it also inherently means giving up on their own routine and day-to-day activities. The siblings wanted to rescue people’s autonomy, both those with reduced mobility and their carers, ensuring their role in society is recognised - and decided to create Eu Vô, in São Carlos, Brazil in 2017.
Eu Vô is a specialised transportation platform that connects trained drivers to people with reduced mobility.
Faced with transport giants like Uber may seem daunting, but Eu Vô do not see these companies as direct competitors, but as complementary, since one of the main differentials of Eu Vô is the way they look at each customer’s needs - offering them a complete door to door service to treat them in a unique and personalised way, in their various day-to-day activities.
Eu Vô have developed specialised holistic training to standardise the service offered by their drivers. Beyond the basics of first aid, further training involves gerontology and psychology expertise - ensuring their service is as humane and facilitating as possible, valuing empathy, safety and reliability with Eu Vô customers. Drivers are trained to learn how to understand the needs of their customers, checking their special requests and preferences, health conditions or any other information that could contribute to their wellbeing on the journey.
Typically drivers help the passengers out of their house, in and out of the vehicle and provide companionship during their shopping or other activities. Drivers are also great company, and long-lasting friendships are often born between journeys.
Eu Vô’s initial target population was the elderly, due to their retaliation to the idea that people with age lose their productive place in society - but over the years, they realised everyone deserves to redeem their autonomy. Today, Eu Vô is available for anyone who can benefit from their service, including disabled individuals, and those who have suffered from injury.
What’s more, the Eu Vô app makes it easy for families, informal carers or support network members to book a trip for someone else and receive live updates - so they have full peace of mind for those they care for. By sharing responsibility the carers also regain their own autonomy and can maintain their daily activities.
Within only 2 years of operation, Eu Vô already has 5000 registered customers and 75 drivers - performing an average of 175 trips per month. By helping their customers integrate into society with stronger social ties, they hope to further promote each individual’s wellbeing and health.
Eu Vô truly acknowledges an audience that no longer wants to be alone indoors. When faced with reduced mobility, there is a need to adapt and retain an active life. Eu Vô makes it easy for everyone to insert back into society and provide a welcoming environment along the way.
If you are reading this and you are from Sao Paulo or Sao Carlos, you can be sure that you or the person you know with reduced mobility has an Eu Vô driver ready to meet you. And watch this space as Eu Vô expands further in Brazil, and possibly Europe 🚘💙
For any further media enquiries on Eu Vô or to get in contact with the entrepreneurs directly, please contact Solene our Communications Manager for MAN Impact Accelerator.
Along with The Center for Sustainable Finance and Private Wealth (CSP) at the University of Zurich went out and about around São Paulo at the start of February to explore the ecosystem of social businesses and investment. Take a look at our fantastic week in the video:
Every week, through March, YSB’s new CEO Jana Lessenich will ask one of our female social business entrepreneurs questions about leadership and their lives. Stay tuned to this space to read their inspiring insights!
Tom Schneider is one of our dedicated mentors from MAN Truck & Bus, here he has published his thoughts and unique perspectives of his mentoring experience with the MAN Impact Accelerator.