Google Hor

Latin America

Hero's legacy

Hero's legacy

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption The Ayrton Senna Foundation is helping millions of students in Brazil

Twenty-three years after his death, former Formula 1 world champion Ayrton Senna's name is almost as valuable as when he was alive - and it is making a difference in his home country of Brazil.

It is Friday afternoon and children around the age of 12 are gathered in the computer lab of a public school in Itatiba, a small town an hour away from Sao Paulo.

Class time is already over for the week, but these students have chosen to stay in school for extracurricular activities.

They are learning Scratch, a piece of software developed by MIT experts that aims to teach kids how to code.

Most public schools in Brazil don't have computer coding in their curriculum. In fact, most schools are struggling to get kids to learn the basics, such as maths and Portuguese, as Brazil ranks among the worst countries in the world in school exams.

Image caption The coding class is courtesy of the Ayrton Senna Foundation

Students and staff in Itatiba have little interest in Formula 1. But much of what is going on in the classroom is part of the legacy of legendary driver Ayrton Senna, killed in a tragic accident during the San Marino Grand Prix on 1 May 1994.

Senna family affair

The coding class is a project run by the Ayrton Senna Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that was founded by Ayrton's sister Viviane a few months after his death.

Most of the money for the Foundation comes from managing Senna's brand and legacy.

Ayrton Senna is still one of the most valuable sporting brands in the world.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Senna is still a beloved figure in Brazil

In the past five years, the foundation drew in about 1bn Brazilian reais (£250m; $320m) for the NGO.

And it's all a family affair. While Viviane is the CEO of the foundation, her daughter Bianca is head of branding.

The foundation uses the money it raises to fund ambitious educational projects, which are today its core business.

"Usually companies have a philanthropic arm that helps society with social projects. We are the other way around. We are the only NGO I know that has a sports branding company inside it," says Bianca.

Still a draw

Ayrton Senna is still a goldmine in terms of marketing.

Image copyright Juan Guerra/Instituto Ayrton Senna Image caption "We're an NGO with a sports branding company inside it," says Ayrton's niece Bianca Senna

The strongest markets for Senna products are Brazil, the UK and Italy.

Research conducted in 2015 by the Boston Consulting Group suggests Senna is in the same league as tennis superstar Roger Federer and basketball legend Michael Jordan in terms of product endorsement potential.

Another survey of Brazilian athletes who competed in last year's Rio Olympics - many of them too young to have seen Senna race - ranked him

...

Ayrton Senna Foundation changing children's lives in Brazil

Legendary F1 driver Ayrton Senna is still one of the strongest brands in sport - and now his name is making a difference in education....

Motherhood in the time of Zika

Katie Falkenberg's photo feature on mothers caring for children damaged by the Zika virus in Brazil was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2017....

Cuba military plane crash leaves eight dead

Map locator

A military plane has crashed in the mountainous west of Cuba, killing all eight personnel on board.

...

El Salvador zoo: Prosecutors investigate 'suspicious deaths'

El Salvador zoo: Prosecutors investigate 'suspicious deaths'Image copyright...
You are here: HispanicAmericans Latin America