How can we make the field of entrepreneurship more inclusive to groups that are systematically deprived of representation? Larissa de Moura, a Brazilian social innovator based in Spain, has experienced first-hand the challenges of being a young, migrant entrepreneur and developing her startup on her own, in an unknown country. Now, she is working towards a world without borders and paving the way for other young international students — as she once was.
Larissa’s curiosity and boldness have taken her through an intense entrepreneurial journey in the past years. INMI, a social startup dedicated to supporting young students in finding the best educational programs around the world, was born out of that journey. Inspired by the 2030 Agenda, INMI is an award-winning platform that connects the migrant community with a network of professionals and resources in an all-in-one support ecosystem.
Besides founding and leading INMI in Valencia, Spain, she is also the co-founder of ALDEA, a social organization where she develops consulting projects, training and territorial-community development through sustainability, interculturality and social innovation.
The stories and projects of the Better Incubation program we are part of, which aims at fostering an inclusive and impact-driven approach to innovative entrepreneurship, inspire us to believe that a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem is possible.
Following our conversations with Rut Turró and Hrishabh Sandilya — two courageous entrepreneurs who are making an incredible impact—, we talked with Larissa de Moura. Learn more about her journey and plans to continue impacting lives and breaking down barriers:
Q: In 3 words, who is Larissa de Moura?
A: An explorer of new experiences.
Q: Do you feel like this thirst for discovery and exploration translates into your life purposes? And talking about purpose, how would you describe yours — both professionally and personally?
A: I frequently ask myself: what makes us authentic? My hope is that everyone can discover it. It may be your personality, your voice, your history, your beliefs, your origins or even your experiences. I believe that everyone can unleash their dreams. We are changemakers, doers, social innovators, dreamers, thinkers, disruptors and much more.
Personally, in my 30s I had the chance of experiencing this process and it brought me boundless enthusiasm. 10 years ago, my purpose was to run a social business. Today, one of my purposes is to work towards a world without borders and empower more young people, women and migrants from different parts of the world.
Q: You have been doing consistent work to promote social, inclusive and sustainable business models with INMI and ALDEA. Could you share a little bit about your own story and how it led you to the social economy sector?
A: I like to say that I am a Brazilian and a little bit Valencian. Before I came to Valencia, I had been working in Brazil for almost 10 years in multinational companies. At that time, inspired by the Golden Circle and my boyfriend, Túlio, one reflection crossed my path: why do you do what you do? It made me realize that my professional skills were way beyond a job title and didn’t need to just fit in a CV. It led me to develop my purpose and explore how I would make a positive impact on the world.
Four years ago, I decided to do a master’s in social economy in Valencia and it was a game-changer for me. I discovered new motivations and professional challenges in the social field, explored intercultural networking, improved languages, and got in touch with new cultures. Thanks to these experiences, I am now working as a certified professional and going deeper and deeper into the business models of the future: social, inclusive and sustainable.
It is gratifying to see through this dual lens — as an entrepreneur and an impact business consultant.
Q: Without a doubt, your story is one of great perseverance and focus on what really matters to you. Moving forward, can you tell us more about your current initiatives and work? Why do INMI and ALDEA exist and how did they start?
A: In 2017, when I was doing my master’s degree, ALDEA was created to support social development and consultancy projects with a focus on alternative economies, sustainability, interculturality and social innovation. It was my second entrepreneurial project and INMI, the last one. The first one, which was more of a life project, was when I decided to move to Spain. In a way, it is amazing to see how these 3 projects naturally connect with each other, even nowadays.
INMI was born in the 2019 Hackathon of Col·lab Las Naves, as an initiative that emerges from real experiences and difficulties of migrants. Like thousands of international students and migrants living abroad, our team went through difficult processes of local adaptation and integration. As we had gone through this firsthand, we were able to streamline these processes and develop an intuitive all-in-one platform to create easier and more accessible international experiences.
That’s why INMI exists: to create a world without barriers. We focus on providing resources and information for global education and the improvement of opportunities. We see it as a major move for reducing inequalities and creating local and global sustainable change.
“Diversity and inclusion must be a part of our daily lives. Underrepresented groups, like migrants, should have the same access to opportunities and tools to undertake, lead and occupy decision-making positions as everybody else.”
Q: A world without barriers sounds like the world we need. We are glad to hear how hard you are working to that end! Having that in mind and reflecting on your entrepreneurial journey until now, what recent achievements are you most proud of?
A: The first achievement is to be ahead of INMI, an award-winning social business committed to solving real problems — despite the many challenges I continue to experience as a young woman and a migrant. There were countless times when I was one of the few (sometimes the only) female or migrant entrepreneurs in the room.
Diversity and inclusion must be a part of our daily lives. Underrepresented groups, like migrants, should have the same access to opportunities and tools to undertake, lead and occupy decision-making positions as everybody else. I am very proud to be contributing to the advancement of this scenario from our sustainable perspective at INMI.
Q: We are on the same page when it comes to inclusion and diversity and it is great to hear that is an inherent part of your mission. The journey to promote social good, however, is not always a bed of roses. Can you share what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a social entrepreneur on a mission towards a world without barriers?
A: I experienced many challenges; language barriers, building a support network from scratch, navigating the landscape of regulation taxes (in general, non-citizens face double the paperwork compared to local citizens), and facing the lack of tailored support to meet immigrant-specific needs, not to mention the recent pandemic barriers for international mobility. I could not miss the chance to share the many mistakes and successes that had the potential to make others’ own journeys easier.
In my case, it was key to be part of a local support network, the public accelerator of Valencia (Col·lab Las Naves), that provided me with mentorships, one-on-one support and guidance as well as connections peer-to-peer.
“For me, the entrepreneurial journey requires that kind of courage that allows you to move forward on your own — particularly when undertaking with impact, as we are doing things differently from the mainstream.”
Q: A supportive network definitely has the power of changing lives and businesses and your story is a great example of that. Now, looking to the future, what is your ambition for the upcoming year? What impact do you and INMI aim to make?
A: At INMI, our main goal for the next year is to get more young people from different countries to live a life-changing international experience! Especially when the worst of the pandemic is over and we can travel again. That is why we are scaling up.
On another note, our surpluses are invested in social and environmental projects. When our clients travel with INMI, they contribute directly to positive social impact initiatives. In this way, people from diverse contexts can also experience living and studying abroad. That’s why we are working to consolidate our triple impact, locally and globally.
Q: Fingers-crossed for you to reach out and impact as many lives as possible! Aiming high like that when you are an entrepreneur requires a few things, but mostly courage. What is courage to you?
A: “Go, and if you’re scared, just go scared”. I really like this quote that a friend told me once. For me, the entrepreneurial journey requires that kind of courage that allows you to move forward on your own — particularly when undertaking with impact, as we are doing things differently from the mainstream.
Q: We appreciate your time to tell your beautiful story and, also, your efforts in taking part in our Community of Practice. So last but not least, what was your key takeaway from the first session?
A: The Community of Practice really is the heart of the LIAISE project. It is an international, inclusive and open space to exchange learnings and experiences. This collaborative dynamic allows us to work from the lens of vulnerable target groups and as real facilitators within the community.
As part of the Better Incubation program’s framework, developed in partnership with members of the European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN), the European Venture Philanthropy Association (EVPA) and Caritas organizations, Impact Hub has been gathering experts and entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups, namely migrants and refugees, people with disability, seniors, women and youth, in a series of virtual working sessions – our Communities of Practice – to debate, exchange, investigate, plan, prototype and evaluate the activities in the field of inclusive entrepreneurship. Larissa de Moura is one of the social innovators taking part in the program and engaging in this important conversation.
For more interesting stories from the Better Incubation program, enjoy our latest article about Hrishabh Sandilya and his mission to build a more inclusive Europe for migrants through social innovation. Make sure to keep an eye on our social channels, as we’ll be sharing more stories of inclusive entrepreneurship over the upcoming period.