NINA meets MAN: Fighting sexual harassment with the help of mobility experts

NINA meets MAN: Fighting sexual harassment with the help of mobility experts

February 26, 2020

Technology from the bottom up – What started out as a family concern turned into a platform, which then went on to impact the lives of many.

As demonstrated by the #MeToo movement, more and more women are helping society change the way we think about sexual harassment by sharing their experiences.

Brazilian activist, social entrepreneur and nominee of several awards (Forbes 2020 Brazil Under 30) Simony Cesar is turning this movement into concrete action in a place where individuals, especially women, feel most vulnerable - public transportation.

52 million Brazilian women were harassed in public transport in 2016 but only 10% of cases came to police’s attention  – Brazilian Public Safety Forum”

Simony grew up in the neighbourhood of Dois Unidos, an underprivileged community in Recife, with a young mother working as a bus collector. She would regularly hear about harassment cases and the difficulty for women to wake up at dawn and return home after dark - living in a constant state of fear. Around her, some women would give up school or their job simply to avoid the fear of public transport.

Simony could not let this frustration go, which led her to begin her own project NINA (tribute to singer and black civil rights activist Nina Simone).

Nina helps victims or witnesses report violence through a simple press of a button (an API which can be integrated into any application – from route planning to ride-hailing). This tool then tracks, standardises and centralises harassment reports occurring in public transport.

Nina helps to protect public transport users by:

  • Building Awareness: Encouraging individuals to report incidents with a simple report button - easy and immediate way to react instead of blaming themselves for the crime.
  • Helping justice to follow its course:  Helping to file police reports of the cases by providing all the necessary information (e.g., surveillance videos) so violence like this doesn’t go unpunished.
  • Public Policy: Collecting data (peak location and time of occurrence of the harassment - amongst many other characteristics) which is actively used to pressurise authorities to promote public policies.

In 6 months, NINA has reported 1300 sexual harassment cases, an average of 1 case every 3 hours.


The secret weapon helping Simony achieve her dreams this year is her lead mentor, Thomas Michelbach from MAN Truck & Bus. Besides his day to day job, Thomas helps NINA in various ways, from mitigating risks by identifying red flags, to moderating and aligning discussions between the 30+ experts that will mentor the start-up throughout the accelerator.

Some insights from these discussions include:

  • How to make NINA a national agenda and not a municipal one
  • How to upscale their service to different cities, user groups and sector (Beyond women and transport)
  • Ways of becoming more economically viable by focusing on B2B and depending less on the government

We had an interview with Thomas Michelbach and Simony Cesar about their relationship. Here’s what they shared:

Our team at YSB spends considerable time matching experts with social entrepreneurs in order to use the time and expertise where it will do most good. We are delighted in the way that Nina has utilised Thomas’s talent to the fullest. Already we have seen that his strong digital background - specifically the development of emerging technologies, IT strategy and digital transformation - helped NINA in the process of better understanding their current challenges.  

“I learnt with my lead mentor to have trust in people, trust in processes and not love my solution but love my problem”

We look forward to seeing the evolution of this mentor-entrepreneur relationship over the next months. While the opportunity for NINA is obvious, equally this mentoring has already inspired Thomas to bring back new mind-sets to MAN.

Along with 7 other social entrepreneurs, Nina is part of the MAN Impact Accelerator’s third batch. Simony Cesar will be traveling to Munich in June to participate in the closing ceremony. Get in contact with Solene to schedule an interview or a meeting.

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