iFood and XP’s Bet Millions to Change the Direction of Tech in Brazil

A coalition of companies, which counts iFood and XP as sponsors, is launched on Wednesday with a commitment of R$10 million to train tech professionals

XP's CEO Thiago Maffra, and the CEO of iFood, Fabrício Bloisi.
July 21, 2022 | 08:29 AM
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Bloomberg Línea — Brazil’s delivery company iFood and broker XP are joining forces -- and money -- to train young people to work in technology. The initiative of training and programming classes, called Tech Movement, came from conversations that the companies had a year ago to solve the problem of the lack of technology professionals and diversity in the sector.

iFood and XP invested R$ 5 million and 18 other companies have already committed R$ 10 million to the projects. The idea is to raise and invest R$ 100 million ($18 million) until 2025.

“We believe that Brazil will only become a power if we manage to master the era of technology,” said Gustavo Vitti, head of people and sustainability at iFood, in an interview with Bloomberg Línea.

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The Tech Movement has three pillars: awakening the interest of low-income youth to want to be technology professionals, empowering them, and connecting these people with employment.

“We are looking at what projects exist today or building projects from scratch that meet the demand of these three pillars,” explains Vitti.

The initiative has already launched the first program, the “Tech Marathon”, which works like a Maths Olympiad -- but for programming -- in public schools.

To train and employ staff, the group created “Tech Power”, which aims to seek under-represented groups and provide scholarships.

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The initiative connects technology schools, such as Let’s Code, for example, with companies like XP, iFood, Vtex, Accenture, Arco Instituto, Grupo Boticário, Buser, Ci&T, Cubos Academy, Digital House, Behring Foundation, Gama Academy, Instituto Localiza, Kenzie Academy Brasil, ONE (Oracle Next Education), Rocketseat, Semantix, Telles Foundation, and VTEX, which are supporting the project.

According to Gabriel Santos, head of software architecture at XP, the initiative intends to increase the supply of qualified professionals, since the pandemic opened borders for Brazilians to work for foreign companies. “With the exchange rate, we ended up exporting more this qualified labor than importing,” he said.

Demand for technology, even in times of crisis

iFood’s first program for job training was in 2020, with Resilia, when it trained professionals in data science. “Ultimately, if we don’t train diverse professionals, we will continue in that game of stealing professionals from other companies,” Vitti said.

Partnering schools must offer at least 800 hours of training in programming for these young people.

iFood recently dismissed employees from the talent acquisition area because, according to Vitti, the company slowed down hiring. But the need for professionals in the area remains.

“We continue hiring technology professionals, but in the past, we were hiring 200 people a month and now we hire 80 to 100 people a month,” he said.

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Last year, XP’s CTO, Thiago Maffra, took the executive position in place of Guilherme Benchimol.

“This movement of Maffra becoming CEO of the company comes very much from this vision of showing that XP is following the movement of the market. It is based on the principle that every company now becomes a tech company, and XP understands that and adopts it internally. But we also must transform the whole ecosystem that permeates us, so the Tech Movement comes a lot with the issue of social responsibility to increase the offer,” iFood’s executive said.

Programming schools define students selected by family income and companies invest in these schools. “There is a wave of technology and if Brazil does nothing, it will be left out. If we wait for the government and public initiative to solve this problem, everyone is ruined,” Vitti said.

Barriers: the public school infrastructure

iFood and XP expect to train and employ more than 1 million professionals by 2030.

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“It’s a very positive side effect to awaken interest in the area. From the moment you start training people for a world where data is increasingly open with the open finance and open banking movement, everyone starts to access data freely. I think this encourages new initiatives. Besides employing people, I’m sure our startups and new ideas for applications will come. This encourages more jobs exponentially,” said Santos.

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The technology Olympiad targets people in the ninth grade of primary school and young people in high school.

“Any company or movement that promises to make Brazil become a technological power in the short term is not realistic. We believe that we need to plant that seed in this young person and create scholarships for people to have access to. A person from an underrepresented group certainly impacts and influences many other people around him”, reminded Vitti.

But there are barriers that XP and iFood will have to overcome. One of them is the infrastructure of public schools where some do not even have computers.

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In parallel, iFood has conversations with Starlink, owned by Elon Musk, to offer internet to remote regions in Brazil. iFood’s CEO, Fabricio Bloisi, sits on the board of XPRIZE, a non-profit organization to encourage technological development, alongside Elon Musk.

“We’ve been talking to Starlink, but these are things that no one has the answer to. The cool thing is that this movement manages to bring collective intelligence to these problems that before, without anyone getting their hands dirty, to try to solve them, you would never know about them,” said Vitti.

Another challenge is that the low-income youth, who often has a job, has the availability to participate in the course eight hours a day for six months.

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“The MEC [Ministry of Education] is not centralized, so you can’t disseminate a massive communication to all schools. We have to talk to various secretariats, there is

It is difficult to get this project up and running,” said the director of iFood.

“Individually no one will be able to solve this problem and will barely move any pointer. This is not an iFood or XP movement, we want a movement that all companies can join and leverage.”

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