Meaningful Business (MB:) Please tell us a bit about your background.
Bruno Mahfuz (BM): I have a degree in business administration and a postgraduate degree in brand management. These skills certainly influenced my professional career, but my experience in the wheelchair was pivotal in the creation of Guiaderodas.
MB: What Led you to start Guiaderodas?
BM: I suffered a car accident in June 2001 and I have been exposed to various experiences due to the lack of accessibility since then. When faced with this new reality, I went to learn about people who suffered from lack of accessibility. I concluded that, in addition to people with disabilities, there are many people who have some mobility restrictions (temporary or permanent). Pregnant women, fathers and mothers with infants and people with temporary limitations due to bruises and surgeries would also benefit from accessible environments.
In addition, according to the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), the population of Brazil will have approximately the same number of young people and the elderly in 2030. With this trend of inversion of the age pyramid, the theme of accessibility becomes more relevant for companies and society as a whole, since ageing naturally also reduces mobility.
MB: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
BM: I strongly believe that the lack of accessibility in various regions of the world comes from our collective conscience.
Not so long ago we did not live for as many years as we do today, and most of the things that exist today were conceived with an old conscience.
Guiaderodas works to reformulate a widespread perception that accessibility benefits only a small portion of society. We want to show the value of the theme, including for business, while also working to improve and enhance the best accessibility practices in companies and buildings.
MB: What is your biggest challenge right now?
BM: Talking about excellence in accessibility in the midst of a pandemic in a developing country is quite difficult.
The current health and economic situation puts this subject low on the list of priorities for many entrepreneurs. On the other hand, many companies are taking advantage of the moment that demands a reconfiguration of their spaces to develop a more accurate look at accessibility.
MB: What is your vision for the future of your business?
BM: I think that one day the lack of accessibility that we experience today will be seen as absurd by society.
Many years ago, though I remember it very well, there was a time when you could smoke on airplanes. This was normal behaviour for that time, until we realised it was absurd. We changed that reality.
I believe it will be similar for the lack of accessibility. The awareness process has already started and there is no way to stop it. Within a short time, society will have a new understanding of the importance of universal access and will mobilise to resolve this issue that afflicts so many people once and for all.
MB: What is your advice to other leaders who want to combine profit and purpose?
BM: Social businesses are very different from traditional businesses and require additional passion. All the successful social entrepreneurs I met were extremely idealistic and were working to change a reality that bothered them deeply.
My advice for new entrepreneurs is that they work to solve a problem that really bothers them.
MB – What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
BM – Every great action came from a dream. Do not be afraid.
MB – Who inspires you?
BM – Many people. But all these people have one characteristic in common: courage!
MB – How do you define success?
BM – For me, success is achieving what you set out to do.
MB – What is something you wish you were better at?
BM- Focus! Sometimes I get excited about several possibilities and end up not focusing on the fundamentals.
MB – What is the one book everyone should read?
BM – The Bible
MB – What do you do to relax?
BM- Sleep well and listen to music 🙂
Discover the other MB100 leaders recognised for their work combining profit and purpose to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in 2020, here.