Today, Silvia Thompson and I visited one of the most fascinating social enterprises I have encountered, Turma do Bem. Founded by dentist Dr. Fábio Bibancos, the organisation has inspired thousands of Brazilian dentists to offer their services pro bono to the country’s poorest young people (through to age 18) – for whom bad teeth (or no teeth at all) mean not just an inability to smile and engage others, but also compound the problems of poverty by massively increasing the chances that they will be unable to find a suitable job. One of the striking facts I picked up was the point that one of the men Turma do Bem helped had been turned down for a job with the police force – which requires candidates to have at least 20 teeth.
First met Fabio at the Schwab Foundation summit in Zurich earlier in the year – and recall Pamela (Hartigan)’s semi-ecstatic reaction when she first encountered Turma do Bem, which applies Robin Hood principles to dentistry, cross-subsidising treatment of the poor through services supplied to the better-off. Very much like their lead value: ‘To do for the others what we’d do for our children.’ Spent a wonderful couple of hours with Fábio, Tatiana Cleff and Eduardo Moura Egas, and came away determined to help Turma do Bem if I possibly can.
Writing on the wall