Celso Athayde was born in one of the most violent areas of Rio de Janeiro. By the age of 16, he had already lived on the streets and in three favelas. His exposure to hip-hop music dramatically changed the way he saw society. This led him to create CUFA, with the goal of inspiring political awareness among favela residents, mostly people of colour. Currently, the largest non-profit organization focused on favelas in Brazil, CUFA uses hip-hop and sports as tools to help young people formulate opinions about social issues and propose solutions.
In 2013, Celso Athayde also founded Favela Holding, a consortium of 24 companies geared towards social inclusion and the economic empowerment of favelas through the generation of jobs, business opportunities and social entrepreneurship. By now, his projects are present in more than 5.000 favelas around Brazil.