After meeting with Carolina and Foguete the preceding day, Paulo and I went to meet with Nil at 10 am at her house-cum-shop in the Provedencia favela near the port area. While we were walking toward her place, Paulo told me that Nil is one of the success stories of the Afro-Brazilian incubator; “she is a warrior.” I was excited to meet with Nil and learn more about her business and leadership style and to understand what makes her different from others.
When we reached at Nil’s, she was praying. She asked us to wait so that she could finish her morning rituals. I started looking around her facilities – broken furniture, old appliances, etc. – and soon realized that she is very religious, frugal, and has modest means but makes the best of her resources. I was sweating as it was 95 F and there was no fan. When Nil finished praying, she arranged for me a place to sit near the gate of the house so that I could get some breeze from outside. Within minutes of speaking with Nil, it was clear to me that she is different from the other entrepreneurs. She spoke with pride and confidence. Although she knew that I didn’t understand the language and that Paulo is going to translate for us, she maintained an eye contact with me to try to understand as much as possible, whereas other entrepreneurs would speak to Paulo.