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Laughter is the best medicine.

Raúl Javales wears two hats. As Head of Strategic Planning at Volkswagen Financial Services in Brazil, he is in charge of strategy, business intelligence and project management. In his free time, though, he regularly slips into the guise of “Dr. Pennebuco Beija-Flor”, hospital clown.

Raúl Javales wears two hats: Head of Strategic Planning at Volkswagen Financial Services in Brazil and “Dr. Pennebuco Beija-Flor”, hospital clown. (photo)

“Hello, I’m Dr. Pennebuco Beija-Flor!” Raúl Javales is wearing a white doctor’s coat, his face is painted like a clown’s, his name a whimsical flight of fancy. “How can I help,” he asks one patient. “Can you make my face prettier?” Dr. Pennebuco Beija-Flor asks the lady to close her eyes for a moment and then sticks a red clown’s nose on her face. “There you are!” Laughter fills the hospital room.

Twice a month, Raúl Javales spends a few hours as Dr. Clown in São Paulo’s “Hospital das Clínicas”. This voluntary work is organized by the Citizen Doctors – the world’s largest hospital clown initiative, with 1,200 members who aim to bring a little light relief to seriously ill patients and their families. “Many of these patients are fighting for their lives, but they’re still able to laugh,” says Javales, adding thoughtfully: “We could learn a lot from them.” When not wearing his clown make-up and a red nose, he is Head of Strategic Planning at Volkswagen Financial Services in Brazil. The company, which encourages its employees to look beyond their own immediate horizons, supports Raúl Javales in his voluntary work, even permitting him to leave the occasional meeting early if hospital patients are expecting a visit from Dr. Pennebuco Beija-Flor.

“Comprehensive mobility services are a real growth market for us.” Raúl Javales, Head of Strategic Planning, Volkswagen Financial Services AG Brazil (quotation)


Raúl Javales spent several months training to be a clown. In both his professional and private life, he has never believed in doing things by halves. With due pride and confidence, Javales recounts that Volkswagen Financial Services is the most specialized vehicle financer in Brazil. “We are enjoying permanent growth and have the greatest expertise when it comes to automotive financial services.”

The share of the Brazilian market attributable to the Volkswagen Group’s brands is over 20 percent. In this growth market, the Financial Services Division’s products are instrumental in boosting sales. “Consorcio” is a case in point: “Consorcio is one of the most typical and most attractive financial products in Brazil,” explains Javales. With Consorcio, a group of private individuals who are all saving for a new car undertake to pool their instalments into a common fund. The models and prices are specified when the agreement is signed and Volkswagen Financial Services hedges against any inflation risks. It is ultimately Lady Luck who decides when each participant will receive his or her car – every month, lots are drawn for two cars. With 100 participants (a common group size), this means saving for a maximum of 50 months before the new car arrives. This kind of car lottery is very popular throughout South America, where it has been used to finance over 500,000 Volkswagen models since 1976.

Raúl Javales sees Consorcio as an ideal means of cooperative financing – and as one that can be transferred to other growth markets, too. Versions of the Consorcio model geared towards Russia, China and India, for instance, are already being discussed at Volkswagen Financial Services. At the same time, Raúl Javales is working on “importing” a business field that is well established in Europe: fleet management. In South America, large leasing companies only provide fleets – they do not manage them. “If we were to offer Brazilian companies comprehensive mobility services, it would be a real growth market for us,” says Javales with full conviction.

Raúl Javales is at the helm of this and all other forward-looking projects. Although his diary is full to bursting, he still finds the time to visit the “Hospital das Clínicas” twice a month, so that the patients are not kept waiting too long for Dr. Clown.


Dirk Böttcher

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