fbpixel Triumph over adversity: an interview with the founder of Gerando Falcões, Edu Lyra. - MG Empower
Written by - Daniel Shale

Triumph over adversity: an interview with the founder of Gerando Falcões, Edu Lyra.


On April 18th, we were immensely proud to sponsor, produce and attend a fundraising dinner for Gerando Falcões, an incredible NGO and social development ecosystem dedicated to fighting poverty in Brazil. Maira Genovese, founder and president of MG Empower, is one of the ambassadors of this amazing project in London – which is deeply connected with her roots as a Brazilian woman and entrepreneur who has kept a strong bond with her home country. 

Gerando Falcoes provide education, economic development and citizenship services to favelas: working-class neighborhoods in Brazil which have traditionally been situated on the peripheries of society, and subject to all the disadvantages of abject poverty. As you’re about to find out, the founder of the organisation, Edu Lyra is an incredible person. Having grown up in a favela himself, he has not only overcome his roots but also dedicated his life to helping others do the same. We were lucky enough to sit down with Edu to learn a bit more about his life purpose. 

Read on for an inspiring Q&A where we unpack Edu’s story of triumph over adversity. 

Can you tell us about the key purpose of Gerando Falcões and what progress you’ve made so far?

In essence, we fight our biggest enemy, poverty, using scalability and rocket science. We want to break down barriers. Everyone has the power of speech so we can decide together the best way forward, exchanging experiences and bringing global visions so poverty, soon, is taken away in a rocket to the museum – before Mars gets colonised. 

Every day, we work to deliver programs promoting education, economic development, access to basic services, climate resilience, and civic engagement at the favelas we serve. By working through a network of community partners, we invest in initiatives that have the capacity to generate long-term results and systemic change.

I founded Gerando Falcões in 2013 and since then we’ve been dedicated to combatting poverty at the favelas. Initially operating as a community organisation in Poa, providing education, cultural activities, and access to jobs, we have become one of the most important organisations combatting poverty in Brazil, working in partnership with 1,300 world leaders and impacting 6,000 favelas in 26 states of Brazil.

What do you consider to be your personal mission with this project? What motivates you?

I was born in 1988, on the outskirts of the city of Guarulhos, the second largest city in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. At the age of three, I had my house destroyed by a storm. When I was still a child, my father was arrested for carrying a weapon, bank robbery and conspiracy. After 20 years, he was released and entered the labour market. So I’ve been hungry and I know the pain that represents. 

My long walk in social entrepreneurship is so that no one has to go through poverty and hunger again. The idea behind the rocketship concept is that, if there is a technology capable of taking man into space, then  there needs to be a technology capable of solving poverty.

In this sense, my job is to talk to community leaders, business leaders and seek the best social technologies available to end poverty. As my mother says, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, but where you are going.” 

My goal is to transform Brazilian favelas into developed, dignified and digital territories: 3D.

Why should businesses like MG Empower consider projects like Gerando Falcões as part of their development strategies?

ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategies are important for companies because they focus on issues related to sustainability, social responsibility and corporate governance, which are increasingly important to investors, customers and society in general. Companies that incorporate ESG into their business have a competitive advantage in the market, as companies that operate responsibly tend to have a positive image and attract customers and investors who care about these issues.

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda to fight poverty is broad and encompasses a range of initiatives and programs that seek to reduce poverty and inequality around the world. In this sense, Gerando Falcões’ programs comprise a set of global strategies and world development pacts. Our strategies offer a portfolio of innovative initiatives, with proven efficiency, at low cost and reaching the most vulnerable populations in Brazil.

What does the future hold for Gerando Falcões? Any upcoming plans to empower the project?

Our goal is to raise one billion reais (USD 200 million), the biggest fundraising effort ever undertaken by a Brazilian organization, to promote systemic change in 1,000 favelas, expand and strengthen the Gerando Falcões leadership network, as well as promote climate resilience.

The number of favelas has doubled, and we are aware that we must mobilise all sectors of society to combat extreme poverty, bringing together businesses, civil society and public policy. By taking the pledge, you will be participating in a historical and transformational campaign, that will impact millions of lives.

Thank you, Edu. We wish you all the luck in the world in your incredible endeavour and are proud to have been a part of the Gerando Falcões journey. 

This is a project that connects beautifully with MG Empower’s purpose: empowering people and giving back through shared and strong values. In order to win, we need to win together.

We are delighted to announce the fundraising dinner that we sponsored successfully exceeded last year’s total donations, furthering this important cause and creating impact that will last for years to come. 

If you would like to offer your support by donating to Gerando Falcões, we would be very grateful on the organisation’s behalf. You can do so here.

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