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CSRAmericas 2012: AVSI, FIAT Brazil model youth employment project

altÁrvore da Vida, AVSI’s project in collaboration with Fiat Brazil to promote employment of local youth, was presented at CSRAmericas 2012, the international event organized by the Multilateral Investment Fund (FOMIN) of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).

CSRAmericas is the biggest conference dedicated to the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility in Latin America and the Caribbean, annually bringing together over 1,000 representatives from leading companies, government institutions and civil society. This year's conference was held in Quito, Ecuador, on May 21-23.

On May 22, in the panel "Bridging the Skills Gap, Marco Antonio Lage, Director of Corporate Communications for FIAT-Chrysler Brazil, presented the results and lessons learned by FIAT working with AVSI on the project Árvore da Vida.

Moderated by: Carmen Pages-Serra, Unit Chief of Labor Markets, IABD


• Branka Minic, Director of Global Corporate & Government Affairs, ManpowerGroup, United States

• Alejandra Solla, Adjunct Director, Fundación SES, Argentina

• Marco Antonio Lage, Director of Corporate Communications, Fiat-Chrysler, Brazil

• Donaciano Domínguez Espinosa, Deputy Coordinator, National Employment Services, Secretaría del Trabajo y Previsión Social, Mexico

Árvore da Vida (‘Tree of Life’) initiated with FIAT Brazil’s desire to invest in and enhance the educational resources of the communities surrounding their production facilities in Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, with the goal of reducing violence and improving overall levels of professional qualification in the area.

Since 2004, the corporate social responsibility project has played an important role in providing young people with a path for social and educational growth, ensuring that they complete their formal education and accompanying them through the transition to the workplace.

Thanks to the project, FIAT began to accept many more job applications from the young people of neighboring communities, which were often characterized by high violence and low level of formal training, and the company now provides employment for over 1,000 local young adults.

By the numbers:

  • Improved living conditions for around 13,550 people living in vulnerable situations.

  • 1,200 young people placed in permanent employment.


  • Community development approach, giving priority to the participation of community members hand-in-hand with the various public and private actors in the area.

  • Focus on vocational training that favors professional specialization based on market needs, and solid preparation to help young people and unemployed women transition into the workplace, providing not only skills, but helping to equip each to find meaning in his or her work.

Lessons Learned:

  • Partnership among public sector, private companies and communities is central to Corporate Social Responsibility.

  • Corporate social responsibility as part of a business model: With Árvore da Vida, FIAT has focused its CSR strategy on youth employment, increasing its investment in the community where its plants are located. Beginning with a philanthropic logic, Árvore da Vida has proved to be an example of sustainable community development.

  • Priority on education and employment of youth: The commitment in this field cannot be limited to job placement, but must be woven into a wider educational initiative, helping young people to recognize the value of education and the dignity of work. The private sector has responded enthusiastically to this proposal: 1,200 young have people received contracts with FIAT or affiliated companies.

  • Unexpected fruits of partnership: New small businesses grew out of the initiative, including Cooperarvore, a cooperative of women who recycle scrap materials from FIAT factories to make and sell purses and bags, household items and over a hundred other products.

  • Centrality of the person: Sustainable development always begins with the growth and initiative of persons: managers, entrepreneurs, government officials and persons living in poverty or looking for employment. It is this very fact that enables initiatives to reach the "base of the pyramid."

Read more:

Publication by AVSI in Brazil affirms role of private sector in development

VIDEO – Meet the young people involved in Arvore da Vida (English)

Download Arvore da Vida brochure