José Pedro Luxo Maia expected to spend his career working in finance, but when he heard that a toy company was expanding, he jumped at the opportunity

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It was right before Christmas and the toy company Science4You had a big problem. A few toy shops needed chemistry games urgently, but the company’s factory had stopped production for the holiday.

An email was sent to all employees, asking volunteers to come to the factory and get the production line running. José Pedro Luxo Maia, a salesman who had started two months earlier, jumped at the chance to make toys in the factory, just outside Lisbon. He was assigned to the start of the production line, where the boxes are folded.

“It looks really easy to take flat cardboard and fold it together, but when you try it, it’s really hard,” says José, 31. “It was an excellent experience because everyone was working towards a common goal. It was humbling to realize how hard it is to be on a production line.”

Portugal science games foster curiosity

José left a consultant job at Deloitte in Lisbon in October 2017 to work for Science4You, a fast-growing company that makes funny, quirky science toys to foster curiosity and build skills in kids. He started out in international sales but now focuses on the Portuguese market, meeting retailers and sending proposals for new toys to potential buyers.

“I like to think of myself as someone who makes sure all the client’s needs are met,” he says.

The company opened its doors in 2008 and has grown across Europe and in markets such as the United States. Annual sales have risen from €54,000 11 years ago to more than €20 million today.

José’s sales job is a result of Science4You’s expansion, financed with a €10 million loan from the European Investment Bank, the EU bank..

More companies should explore the benefits of an investment by the European Investment Bank, José says. It would make them appreciate the European Union.

 “We see a lot of anti-EU sentiment, but people should realize that the European Union gives us more money than it costs,” he says. “The European Investment Bank didn’t just invest in Science4You. It also invested in me. It allows me to have a job where I’m happy and lets the company employ hundreds of people, provide for their families, have savings, get a house.”

José’s job is one of millions created with the European Investment Bank’s support.  By 2021, investments signed by the European Investment Bank Group in 2017 alone are expected to raise EU gross domestic product by 1.1% and to create 1.2 million jobs.  Even in 2036, EU GDP will be 0.7% higher as a result of the EIB's 2017 investments, and 650,000 extra jobs will have been added.

“It’s a nice feeling, working in a job where I bring education to children,” José says. “I believe the future is in education. I’m glad I’m improving the future in some way.”