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Gisela Maria Bernardes Solymos

As a Psychologist with Masters in Psychology and Human Development and PhD in Social Psychiatry, Gisela has extensive experience in designing, implementing and evaluating social interventions, particularly in the context of extreme poverty.
As co-founder and former CEO of CREN (, a non-profit organisation that treats malnourished children in day hospitals and outpatient clinics in Sao Paulo - Brazil, she has managed a team of over 130 staff and volunteers that, in 28 years, has helped almost 8 million individuals, extending their methodology throughout Latin America and Africa.
Her determination in fighting poverty led her to widen her focus. Gisela now contributes to other national and international organizations in projects concerning education and micro-entrepreneurship while also engaging in initiatives to change public policies.
She is an awarded Social Entrepreneur by Ashoka, E&Y and Schwab Foundation and co-founder of several organisations and initiatives, the latest including Catalyst 2030 Global and Catalyst 2030 Brasil, where she is co-chair.

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CREN Centre of Nutritional Recovery and Education
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Non-profit Social Enterprise
Sustainable Development; Innovation
Areas of Impact
Latin America, Brazil

CREN Centre of Nutritional Recovery and Education

CREN Centre for Nutritional Recovery and Education has pioneered new methods to tackle widespread youth malnutrition (obesity and undernutrition) throughout Brazil, Latin America and Africa. In partnership with Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo), research conducted at CREN has transformed the manner in which malnutrition is measured among young children. It has also demonstrated the negative consequences of childhood undernutrition in adult life and its co-existence with obesity. Contrary to the common treatment of simply medicating malnourished children, CREN addresses the problem through a holistic education method.

Within its three units in the state of São Paulo, CREN expands the conventional approach by not only undertaking medical and nutritional examinations, but also engaging children and their families in the whole treatment process as co-creators of the results to be achieved. Group workshops, home visiting and individual practices are used to make sure that the educational process will evolve into real changes in the families' life styles. Thus far, the centre's method has led to a long-term transformational impact. CREN also conducts theoretical and practical training with professionals of public schools and of the healthcare system, promotes active search of malnourished children in poor communities, and develops various strategies to prevent and fight youth malnutrition according to the needs of each particular reality.

Using a highly qualified, knowledgeable staff and renowned impact measurement system, CREN has developed new methodologies that are now widespread and used, such as: bringing nutritional education in child educational centres; and involving adolescents in fighting malnutrition in their own communities through interdisciplinary activities integrated into the school curriculum. In 2007, a CREN social franchise was founded in Alagoas, taking its expertise and methodologies to one of Brazil's poorest states. In 2017, CREN established a partnership with the municipality of São Paulo to train health professionals from 230 health units. The project, called The first 1000 days: Educate, Care and Nourish for life, will benefit 6,900 professionals and 500,000 families in one year. CREN's activities have benefited 3.8 million people, treated more than 145,000 children, and trained 35,000 people since its establishment in 1994.


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