Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is arguably one of the most vibrant cities in the world. The picturesque landscape and vivid culture is pulsating through the metropolis; a melting pot of European, African and indigenous backgrounds. However, due to rapid urbanization and sluggish market development in the early 80s, Rio de Janeiro is ridden with high levels of unemployment and low-income shantytowns, or ‘favelas’, scattered throughout 30% of its landscape. While many favela dwellers opt to generate income within the informal economy, others unite to legalize cooperatives. In every community in Rio, there now exists bakery, recycling, and artisan coops.

COOTRABOM is a working/producer cooperative located in the low-income community of Maré, just west of downtown Rio de Janeiro. This cooperative is divided up into three components; recycling, artisan and advocacy. The recycling team of the cooperative goes through the community collecting newspapers, magazines and plastic bottles to be recycled or handed over to the artisan team. The artisan team creates jewelry from the recycled materials and markets the crafts in and around Maré to generate income. The advocacy team attends meetings and conferences in the city, promoting the good work of the cooperative and seeking partnerships.

Currently COOTRABOM is funding the construction of a daycare and family-planning facility in Maré, which will serve the entire community.

View a video about Cootrabom at