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Lamacchia’s original company has evolved to become Bank Crefisa, a market leader in lending for Brazilians, Pereira says. That same spirit of uplift can be traced through the pattern of investment that has followed since.


Lamacchia and Pereira created the higher education institution, Faculdade das Américas [FAM] or School of the Americas, which invests in distance learning throughout Brazil as well as having a few campuses in São Paulo. These student centers or “poles,” says Pereira, are places in which students can take online courses, ranging from undergraduate to postgraduate levels, in approximately 80 disciplines.


In the spirit of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who believed in the power of education to create a more equitable and caring world, Lamacchia and Pereira are offering Brazilians unprecedented access to college and career choices.


With this in mind, Lamacchia and Pereira choose endeavors that are close to their hearts. The duo envisions themselves as more than mere business moguls. In fact, the Crefisa website cites its role as an “agent of transformation” in Brazil.


THE HEART OF A SUPERFAN


The pair is perhaps best known for its transformational sponsorship of Brazilian soccer club Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, beginning in 2015. The team has a rich history in Brazil and remains a passionate project for both Lamacchia and Pereira.


Over the years, the professional team, in existence since 1914, has gradually grown to become a powerhouse in São Paulo’s premier state league as well as the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A and South American Championships. It initially included many Brazilians of Italian origin and was formally named Palestra Italia. The team changed its name in 1942 and since that time, has been known by its current name, Palmeiras.


However, in 2015, Lamacchia found his beloved childhood team in a grim situation.


“Palmeiras was going through a very tough time, both financially and sports-wise. It was bad and they had no sponsors for two years running,” Pereira says. She asked Lamacchia if he would be willing to invest more than the blood and sweat of a fan in the team that he had followed since boyhood.


With no experience in the world of competitive sports sponsorship, Lamacchia and Pereira made the decision to enter into the largest patronage Brazilian soccer had ever seen based solely on the passion of their fandom.


“It is a very healthy relationship. It gave us a lot,” Pereira maintains. “Soccer is entertainment, right? You are dealing with the fans’ passion. And we do it for us, we are the fans of Palmeiras. It’s the love we have for the club.”


Palmeiras has benefited too. The soccer club went on to win the national title, the Brazil Cup, in 2015. The following year the team won the national Brazilian Championship. Ticket sales, home attendance, and followers continue to grow in part to the sponsorship.


F ALCONER ISSUE 48


“This is very satisfying and, God willing, we will win another important title this year,” Pereira adds.


RESPONDING TO IMMEDIATE NEEDS


Lamacchia, 75, and Pereira, 53, now hope that their growing portfolio of investments will aid the recovery of a country in need of its own rousing support. Political uncertainty and unemployment rates have left Brazil sluggishly recovering from a recent economic recession.


“We invest [but] it’s not only that we invest. We help,” Pereira says.


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