Olabi Makerspace

R. Barão de Lucena, 85a - Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, 22271-010

Makerspace

Space size 200 m²

Opened in April 2014

Structure type Social organization

Explored in February 2019


Olabi's proposal is to promote dialogues and articulations between the world of technology, citizenship and business in a space for generating solutions, inventions or simply discoveries. We aim to reduce social inequalities by promoting diversity as a powerful way of innovation and creativity.

Social networks

Main interests

Technology - machines & tools Social initiatives Industry & innovation Education Art & culture Social diversity Gender diversity

This workshop is great for:

Public organisations Seniors Large companies Hobbyist makers General public Schools & universities

Our workshop

Learn more about our space, members, machines & services!

Want to discover a possible evolution for the makerspaces model in the future? Welcome in Olabi. Created in 2014, this organization tried different models and relied on a strong international network to become a Brazilian change maker.

It all started with the vision of an hyper-connected and multi-tasks woman, Gabriela Agustini. This charismatic leader traveled all around the world to develop and study the access of internet for Brazilian on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and was part of the creation of the first co-working space in Sao Paulo, the Casa digital culture, which gathered digital innovative teams and hosted the first hackerspace, the Garoa makerspace. These experiences shaped her idea that collaboration and digital can reduce the gap of inequalities but she had to wait for a trip in Boston, where she visited the Techshop, to discover the piece that was missing to shape a project of her own : the diversity of people making together. In fact, during her visit, she assisted to an event that gathered people from different background, experiences and skills and she saw what they succeeded to achieve together with a maker spirit and resources. Back in Rio, one year later, she opened the first makerspace in the garage of a new co-working space, Templo, with Isabelle Goldfarb, to empower an eclectic communities with technology and innovation.

To achieve their mission, the two founders tried different models (workshops for kids, digital courses, hackathon, business services, …) while measuring their impact and staying tuned to new trends and opportunities through their networks and researches. As a result, they succeeded to adapt their model to the Brazilian context. Today, the Olabi makerspace is no longer a private company but a resource of a social organization, Olabi, with their own building, which aims to gather “thinkers” and “doers” to discuss and work together about grand challenges and societal issues. Thus, the organization has been designed with 3 levels :

  • A makerspace: an open place for people to gather, have ideas, start to experiment
  • A toolbox: knowledge and methodologies used during events (pop-up makerspace) and for social innovation consulting missions
  • A hub: a network of people connected around a project or a mission (Pretalab, Computacao sem cao )

Even if the team could have enjoyed its sustainability to focus on their current social projects, the new political context in Brazil changed their plans. They aim to develop new projects to counterbalance the lack of public policies supporting gender and social diversity. Reducing the inequalities is and will always be at the heart of Olabi, shaped by the values of the maker spirit: try, learn and collaborate.

Gabriela Agustini, Isabelle Goldfarb, Silvana Bahia. 3 women with unique personalities and skills who were attracted to each other by the same values and desire to make the difference for people in Brazil.

Both co-founders, Gabriela, a former journalist and community manager, and Isabelle, engineer and business consultant, formed the first team, putting together their complementary expertise to transform their idea into a real company. In order to perform their projects and activities, they used to count on freelances, such as Silvana, a specialist in communication with solid experience in social projects. When “Pretalab”, the program to support black women designed and developed with Silvana, became a success, she was hired as co-director to lead it and grow it internationally.

Nowadays, if they still work with a red of 15 freelances such as Ana in charge of the Computacao sem cao project, the financial resources of Olabi enabled them to hire 5 people :

  • Hugo, a technical operator, who is in charge of all the activities linked to the makerspace
  • Roberta, a project manager, who assists the Directors in each project
  • David, an administrative officer, who deals with the administrative process and accounting
  • Rodrigo, in charge of the rental of the space
  • the cleaning lady

The team will be soon completed by a new project manager who will assist Silvana in the development of the Pretalab program and the team is always ready to hire new members depending on the sustainability of new activities.

On a day to day basis, their organization is not supported by specific tools or meetings but with great communication and trust. In addition, Roberta ensures the role of the projects tracker with tools such as Excel shared in a Drive to follow the advancement of each project and to coordinate the actors. However, regarding the external communication, even if this role is shared by the charismatic directors during events and participation in various networks, the lack of a person in charge of communication has been felt to cover the social networks and work on their identity so they are considering putting someone dedicated.

Olabi is a place to create and host workshops. It is dedicated to the Olabi team to create workshops and develop methodologies that include digital fabrication. Usually, if someone has a project and come to Olabi lab, the team will indicate him the most appropriate lab in town. Nevertheless, the space is open to people who come to attend the event organized in line with the spirit of Olabi Lab which is to democratize the use of technology and to gather a diversity of people. “Because diversity is a key to create something new”.

Thus the community is everyone when the Olabi lab organizes events like the customization of Carnaval costumes with LEDs. It is also people from poor neighborhoods when the team delocalizes the lab in Favelas of Rio to teach digital fabrication. In the context of the PretaLab project, the community is black women. Olabi created this project in line with its mission to increase diversity in the world of innovation. In that case, the purpose is to include more black women in innovation. « Black women accumulate the worst social indicators in Brazil. […] Black women need to be part of the dizzying technological changes that the global economy is undergoing. PretaLab emerged as a campaign in the quest to map and understand who are the black and indigenous girls and women who work in this area. » Finally, the community is also employees of companies when Olabi team come there to do workshops about digital fabrication.

To increase its impact and to animate its community online, Olabi Lab is working on a platform where the team will publish knowledge about digital fabrication and the various studies it performs like the one about black women discrimination.

Olabi is a social organism before being a business looking for profits. To focus on its social purpose the team chose to be financed by international institutions. The fund essentially comes from the foundation of an international automobile company whose purpose is to invest in social inclusion projects.

The face of the business model of Olabi changed many times since its creation. From workshops for kids to hackathon passing by digital courses and business services. Initially, in 2014, the lab was sustainable and independant when its main activity was workshops for children. But the close of the coworking space where they took place and the evolution of the Olabi’s mission (Diversification of thinkers and doers profiles in the technology world) made the team rethink the business model.

In 2018, the team succeeded to raise 1,4M€ from international foundations to finance three years of activity. 80% of the cost are human resources. The rest is the cost related to the many social projects like the “Pretalab” and the development of new social and awareness-raising measures like online courses. In addition, to have a social impact, some activities allow to diversify the financing resources and to reach a financial autonomy.

Among them are consultancy missions for companies like “how to recruit more women in technological companies”, the organization of workshops like the customization of Carnaval costumes with LEDs and the help to create new labs like the lab of the museum of tomorrow located in Rio.

According to Gabriela Agustini, the Olabi lab founder « What helps a lot Obali lab to test those various activities is to be financially supported by international institutions. This kind of financial sources is a key success to have a strong social impact. To be a social organization instead of a company allows focussing more on the impact than the profit. Even if a long term breakeven situation is seeking. Nongovernmental funding prevent Olabi lab from the politicizing of its actions and from very bureaucratic processes »

Want to discover a possible evolution for the makerspaces model in the future? Welcome in Olabi. Created in 2014, this organization tried different models and relied on a strong international network to become a Brazilian change maker.

It all started with the vision of an hyper-connected and multi-tasks woman, Gabriela Agustini. This charismatic leader traveled all around the world to develop and study the access of internet for Brazilian on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and was part of the creation of the first co-working space in Sao Paulo, the Casa digital culture, which gathered digital innovative teams and hosted the first hackerspace, the Garoa makerspace. These experiences shaped her idea that collaboration and digital can reduce the gap of inequalities but she had to wait for a trip in Boston, where she visited the Techshop, to discover the piece that was missing to shape a project of her own : the diversity of people making together. In fact, during her visit, she assisted to an event that gathered people from different background, experiences and skills and she saw what they succeeded to achieve together with a maker spirit and resources. Back in Rio, one year later, she opened the first makerspace in the garage of a new co-working space, Templo, with Isabelle Goldfarb, to empower an eclectic communities with technology and innovation.

To achieve their mission, the two founders tried different models (workshops for kids, digital courses, hackathon, business services, …) while measuring their impact and staying tuned to new trends and opportunities through their networks and researches. As a result, they succeeded to adapt their model to the Brazilian context. Today, the Olabi makerspace is no longer a private company but a resource of a social organization, Olabi, with their own building, which aims to gather “thinkers” and “doers” to discuss and work together about grand challenges and societal issues. Thus, the organization has been designed with 3 levels :

  • A makerspace: an open place for people to gather, have ideas, start to experiment
  • A toolbox: knowledge and methodologies used during events (pop-up makerspace) and for social innovation consulting missions
  • A hub: a network of people connected around a project or a mission (Pretalab, Computacao sem cao )

Even if the team could have enjoyed its sustainability to focus on their current social projects, the new political context in Brazil changed their plans. They aim to develop new projects to counterbalance the lack of public policies supporting gender and social diversity. Reducing the inequalities is and will always be at the heart of Olabi, shaped by the values of the maker spirit: try, learn and collaborate.

Gabriela Agustini, Isabelle Goldfarb, Silvana Bahia. 3 women with unique personalities and skills who were attracted to each other by the same values and desire to make the difference for people in Brazil.

Both co-founders, Gabriela, a former journalist and community manager, and Isabelle, engineer and business consultant, formed the first team, putting together their complementary expertise to transform their idea into a real company. In order to perform their projects and activities, they used to count on freelances, such as Silvana, a specialist in communication with solid experience in social projects. When “Pretalab”, the program to support black women designed and developed with Silvana, became a success, she was hired as co-director to lead it and grow it internationally.

Nowadays, if they still work with a red of 15 freelances such as Ana in charge of the Computacao sem cao project, the financial resources of Olabi enabled them to hire 5 people :

  • Hugo, a technical operator, who is in charge of all the activities linked to the makerspace
  • Roberta, a project manager, who assists the Directors in each project
  • David, an administrative officer, who deals with the administrative process and accounting
  • Rodrigo, in charge of the rental of the space
  • the cleaning lady

The team will be soon completed by a new project manager who will assist Silvana in the development of the Pretalab program and the team is always ready to hire new members depending on the sustainability of new activities.

On a day to day basis, their organization is not supported by specific tools or meetings but with great communication and trust. In addition, Roberta ensures the role of the projects tracker with tools such as Excel shared in a Drive to follow the advancement of each project and to coordinate the actors. However, regarding the external communication, even if this role is shared by the charismatic directors during events and participation in various networks, the lack of a person in charge of communication has been felt to cover the social networks and work on their identity so they are considering putting someone dedicated.

Olabi is a place to create and host workshops. It is dedicated to the Olabi team to create workshops and develop methodologies that include digital fabrication. Usually, if someone has a project and come to Olabi lab, the team will indicate him the most appropriate lab in town. Nevertheless, the space is open to people who come to attend the event organized in line with the spirit of Olabi Lab which is to democratize the use of technology and to gather a diversity of people. “Because diversity is a key to create something new”.

Thus the community is everyone when the Olabi lab organizes events like the customization of Carnaval costumes with LEDs. It is also people from poor neighborhoods when the team delocalizes the lab in Favelas of Rio to teach digital fabrication. In the context of the PretaLab project, the community is black women. Olabi created this project in line with its mission to increase diversity in the world of innovation. In that case, the purpose is to include more black women in innovation. « Black women accumulate the worst social indicators in Brazil. […] Black women need to be part of the dizzying technological changes that the global economy is undergoing. PretaLab emerged as a campaign in the quest to map and understand who are the black and indigenous girls and women who work in this area. » Finally, the community is also employees of companies when Olabi team come there to do workshops about digital fabrication.

To increase its impact and to animate its community online, Olabi Lab is working on a platform where the team will publish knowledge about digital fabrication and the various studies it performs like the one about black women discrimination.

Olabi is a social organism before being a business looking for profits. To focus on its social purpose the team chose to be financed by international institutions. The fund essentially comes from the foundation of an international automobile company whose purpose is to invest in social inclusion projects.

The face of the business model of Olabi changed many times since its creation. From workshops for kids to hackathon passing by digital courses and business services. Initially, in 2014, the lab was sustainable and independant when its main activity was workshops for children. But the close of the coworking space where they took place and the evolution of the Olabi’s mission (Diversification of thinkers and doers profiles in the technology world) made the team rethink the business model.

In 2018, the team succeeded to raise 1,4M€ from international foundations to finance three years of activity. 80% of the cost are human resources. The rest is the cost related to the many social projects like the “Pretalab” and the development of new social and awareness-raising measures like online courses. In addition, to have a social impact, some activities allow to diversify the financing resources and to reach a financial autonomy.

Among them are consultancy missions for companies like “how to recruit more women in technological companies”, the organization of workshops like the customization of Carnaval costumes with LEDs and the help to create new labs like the lab of the museum of tomorrow located in Rio.

According to Gabriela Agustini, the Olabi lab founder « What helps a lot Obali lab to test those various activities is to be financially supported by international institutions. This kind of financial sources is a key success to have a strong social impact. To be a social organization instead of a company allows focussing more on the impact than the profit. Even if a long term breakeven situation is seeking. Nongovernmental funding prevent Olabi lab from the politicizing of its actions and from very bureaucratic processes »

Technologies & processes available

3D printing Laser cutting Computing & softwares VR & video games Electronics Textile machines Traditional tools Welding Arduino

Services offered

Coaching & project mentoring Prototyping Space rental Machines rental Coworking space Classes & workshops Exchange programs Projects & sprints sessions Pop-up workshops Hackathons Building together a team of makers Community center Talks & conferences Education missions

Our best practices

The inspiring things we do here to run our collaborative space

Participation in local and international networks

What is it?

Be part of local and international networks related to maker movement, sharing your values or your missions.

In concrete terms?

The success of Olabi lies in the personalities of the directors, who gather people on projects thanks to their charisma and because of the relevance of their propositions based on their knowledge and experiences. But a key success factor was also their personal and professional networks which helped them to attract talented people in their project, to gain experience working on external projects suggested by their network and to discover new trends during events. For instance, one of the funder, Gabriela Agustini, is a member of Global Innovation Gathering, Oui Share, the Institute of Technology and Society in Rio, Institute of Technology and Equity in Rio, Fablat Network, Medialab Network, …

Why it’s interesting?

Be opened and active in a diversity of networks with the same interest is key to step back from the operational activity, get new ideas and find new synergies on impactful projects.


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