Maiara Righi came to Portugal from Brazil to study and ended up falling in love with the country. Now she owns her own business, Madre Coxinha, and is a successful entrepreneur.
Maiara comes from Fortaleza, northeast Brazil. She left one day, “with the aim of returning”, but after making a success out of herself she has never looked back. The moment she arrived in Portugal, more specifically in Lisbon, she decided to settle and opened a business in the restaurant sector.
The birth of Madre Coxinha
“I decided to invest in an old passion of mine, cooking”, she says, which is how Madre Coxinha, a fried chicken company that has grown over the years, came about. “Coxinha was just for fun”, she explains, saying that she saw a “market opportunity”. The rest happened naturally, and she goes as far as to say that “I didn’t choose Coxinha, Coxinha chose me”.
And how did she choose the name and the concept behind Madre Coxinha? “I met somebody who was just right. We did a market survey and came up with the name and the whole of the concept, which is what we wanted to get across through the product, a sense of motherly care and homecooked food”, she explains.
The market is there and so are the incentives. Maiara says that Portugal is a good country to invest in, since there are several opportunities and incentives for new entrepreneurs. “Incentives for investing, to buy the machinery, hire people”, she says, explaining why she invested in Portugal rather than in Brazil. “That was the big difference that made it possible to invest and it was also a great advantage. I don’t think I would have had the same opportunities in Brazil”.
Maiara’s professional life tends to overlap with her private life, which leaves her without much time to enjoy what the country has to offer, which she admits is plenty. “Madre Coxinha is on my mind night and day, but I have the privilege of living in the centre of Lisbon. I live in the Graça neighbourhood and so I know many of the locals, the old people who I cross in the street, the good taverns, and in the Summer I can make it to the beach”, she says.
However, when she compares her life here to what she had in Brazil, there are two major differences that stand out. “The big difference between my life in Brazil and my life in Portugal has to do with freedom and safety. The liberty to be able to walk around without the fear that something is going to happen to me”, Maiara explains.
Regarding future plans, for now she says she wants to stay in Portugal and invest in Madre Coxinha. “The truth is that I have never thought of anything else, since I came over here”.