Taberna da Amazônia reformulates its business model during the pandemic

Promoting the connection of Amazonian socio-biodiversity products with Brazilians, creating shorter links in the production chain and more direct links between small producers in the northern region and consumers, is the core of the work of the Amazon tavern.

Anne Karoline Mello, founder of Taberna, is a designer. He taught for a while, studied and worked with ecodesign, materials research, did a postgraduate degree in environmental management, worked with the Amazonas state research funding agency and took a master's degree in design and sustainability in Rio de Janeiro. 

Born in Manaus, she went through all these experiences before returning to her origins. And the way she found for this return, given the relationships woven in Rio, where she lives and created the Tavern, was to establish a bridge between the Southeast and small Amazon producers.

The beginning was limited to the sale of chestnuts produced by the father, as well as chestnut cookies to friends. Gradually, with the acceptance and interest of the public, it expanded the products offered, started to participate in fairs and even had a physical store in Rio for a while.

Operating on a mobile basis until the beginning of 2020, the Amazon tavern participated in events offering nut biscuits, cupuaçu bonbons, chestnut, chocolate with cocoa native to the forest, cupuaçu jujube with mangarataia, jambu cachaça, tucupi, jellies, tapioca, peppers and flour, among many other delicacies produced by Amazonian communities.

“I grew up in a family that has a very strong connection with the interior of the state of Amazonas. My family on my father's side comes from the Purus, he has always worked with extraction and trade of products in nature, and I grew up watching this process. I thought it was all very grand, but that reality didn't seem right for me, because I was born in the city of Manaus, I was studying, I wanted to go out, see the world. I left, studied and, on that return, after doing a whole study of the environment and dealing with different audiences, I started to understand the integration of what I had done with the recognition of the value of where I was born and what my parents do. THE Tavern it's part of it,” says Anne.

Period of isolation brought by the pandemic inspires business redesign

With the covid-19 pandemic, Taberna da Amazônia had a drop of more than 50% in revenue. Anne used her free time to reshape the business, investigating areas that required better organization and working on expanding the product offering.  

Food remains Taberna's strength, but products and services from other niches will now be added to the catalogue.

 “This expansion was designed based on the demands of our customers, who asked for beauty and health items. In addition, when the name Taberna da Amazônia came up, there was already a desire to take a great diversity of products from the forest to the world. It was a dream that I thought was very distant, but now, through a new online platform, it becomes more viable”, evaluates Anne.

Among the news, which can be seen in early December – the month in which the business completes four years – is a new website with e-commerce in operation, in addition to the availability of product kits in charming panniers (which can be purchased in a way separately or by subscription) and the dissemination of Amazon expeditions that promote experiences with community tourism in partnership with local organizations.

 “The intention is to have a Marketplace for small local initiatives that work with themed expeditions and in communities. The relationship established with tourism initiatives is to support dissemination. I used to suggest itineraries for clients who asked for tips for trips to the Amazon. Taberna now supports the dissemination of these initiatives through its website and social networks”, says Anne.

The paneiros, woven in arumã fiber by the Tikuna, can also be perceived as experiences, as they categorize Amazon products into four options: Paneiro Pai D'água (the Taberna's most beloved products, such as cookies, sweets and bonbons) , Paneiro Pavulagem (brings products a little more sophisticated on the palate, peppers, preserves, sauces, liqueurs, jellies and chocolates), Paneiro Fit (products related to healthier diets and sports, with granola, nuts, guarana) and Paneiro Caboquinho (It gathers the northerner's basic basket and brings items such as flour, tucupis, sweets, coffee, etc.).

In 2021, the range of options at the Taberna will include health, beauty and handicraft items from the forest.

Mentoring offered by the Program was fundamental in the change

The intention to expand products and services already existed, but it gained even more strength with the mentorship of Hilton Menezes, Kyvo's CEO, offered by the PPA Acceleration Program, focused on business model.  

“He has been a key player in the business restructuring process. I work alone on all fronts of the company, and decision making ends up being a lonely and difficult process. The mentor helped me organize the ideas in spreadsheets, tables and visualize the possible paths for the business”, evaluates Anne. The process also helped in investigating the customer journey, choosing the best platform for e-commerce and finance. The 2020 statements are already closed and the deal enters 2021 with a financial plan drawn up.

Another important change is the location of the stock, which in December will occupy a distribution center in Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro, which will facilitate the process of delivering products with delivery to the city and sending the products to other parts from the country. The products were located in Manaus, which ended up making shipping more expensive for the consumer.

“The entire acceleration process has been very fruitful. I end the year really seeing my company. And with the objective of implementing the e-commerce achieved. In addition to the debts paid, with support from the Program itself, which made available working capital due to the pandemic, to help businesses go through this phase. More peace of mind to grow and earn more in 2021”. 


Digital journey of the Acceleration Program in 2020 brought learning and opportunities

With the limitations imposed by social isolation in the covid-19 pandemic, the activities of the PPA Acceleration Program, planned for the most part to be carried out in face-to-face meetings with entrepreneurs, were transformed into a digital journey.

The accelerated group in 2020 participated in a five-day face-to-face meeting in February, a fundamental immersion for establishing bonds between entrepreneurs and also for the elaboration of Theories of Change for each business.

From then on, with the epidemic advancing, the coordination of the Acceleration Program tried to find alternatives to continue the training cycle planned to develop over the first half of 2020.

A digital journey was designed, and included expansion of content and of facilitators and partners - not having to travel to face-to-face meetings facilitated the compatibility of agendas - and also the distribution of activities throughout the year, which provided more time for the absorption of the contents.

Entrepreneurs, the Program team and facilitators connected through webinars, which provided, in addition to sharing content, moments of exchange and collective construction.

For the coordinator of the Acceleration Program, Ana Carolina Bastida, the new format brought the challenge of maintaining the interaction between entrepreneurs and between entrepreneurs, facilitators and Program partners, which was very rich in face-to-face meetings.

“This interaction has been fundamental for entrepreneurs to establish partnerships, exchange lessons learned and experiences, because they live the same reality and the challenge of entrepreneurship in the Amazon. And we managed to bring this interaction, even at a distance, through the participatory formats of the modules. The businesses had space to interact and talk in the resolution of exercises and challenges proposed by the facilitators”, evaluates Ana.

The digital journey offered learning modules on value proposition, digital sales channels, logistics in the Amazon, branding and communication, operational intelligence, financial planning, accounting management and pricing.

In addition, three connection wheels were promoted: Entrepreneurship and business in the Amazon, with Ricardo Abramovay; People management and self-care, with Regina Erismann; and Export of sustainable products, with Edy Chammah, from Brazil Global.

The Program coordination assesses that the new format has brought more efficiency by reducing logistics costs and travel time. And also more efficient absorption of the content itself, due to the more spaced distribution of modules throughout the year.

“The training cycle in digital format brought an opportunity for entrepreneurs to connect, from various parts of the Amazon, to partner facilitators throughout Brazil. The meetings helped in the organization process in the face of the pandemic crisis, and brought content and strategic partnerships for businesses, such as logistics and exports”, assesses Guilherme Faleiros, new business analyst at Idesam.

Connection and learning

Workshop held in February in Manaus

To Saulo Thomas, from ONF Brazil, the activities offered contemplated the needs of the business, in particular the modules focused on logistics and organizational strategy. “These lessons helped us to think about organizing the house first, before moving on to new things. The diversity of modules was very interesting, topics such as branding and communication were very new for us.”

Maria Eugenia Tezza, from Academia Amazon Teaches, highlights that the Program enabled the development of strategic skills for the continuity of the business. “The situation was really delicate because of the pandemic, but with the support of the PPA Acceleration Program and our expedition members, we managed to get through this period. The digital journey brought a very interesting format that managed to keep us connected. Thankfully, our first event managed to be in person, so that we could all look at each other and feel part of a united group in favor of conscious and engaged entrepreneurship. This made online activities provide more connection between us.”

After the modules of the digital journey, in which he had greater use in the topic of communication and branding, Academia Amazônia Ensina hired a communication professional and is currently working on the rebranding of the business. 

Hélia Félix, from cocoaway, assesses that the new format brought great benefits, and also made it possible for more people on the team to participate in the training: “In each activity, we organized small groups of people who identified with the theme. It was an intense journey and a lot of learning.”

The digital journey also brought the possibility of increasing the number of participants in connection circles and other activities, bringing together entrepreneurs from the 2019 cycle to those from the 2020 cycle, and further expanding the interaction and exchange between the members of the two groups.

To Tainah Fagundes, from of the Tribu, accelerated in 2019, the Program provided opportunities for updating and getting closer to the new initiatives accelerated this year, establishing connections and the possibility of exchanges.

Joanna Martins, from maniac, also accelerated in 2019, highlights the richness of the activities offered: “The Program has helped us a lot in terms of connections and knowledge, in a way out of the curve compared to other initiatives and groups in which we participate. This has brought enrichment and very positive results for Manioca”. 


Amazonian ingredients are used in innovative beverages

It is not new that genuinely Amazonian flavors have delighted chefs and inspired food and beverage recipes. 

Recently, the Kiro, producer of a relatively new type of drink in the market (the switchel), but already with great acceptance among the consuming public, developed two new flavors: Apple + Jiquitaia Pepper and Cumaru + Cupuaçu.

Indigenous Jiquitaia pepper is supplied by communities in the Traditional Agricultural System of Rio Negro, indicated by Origins Brazil. Cumaru is provided by maniac, a business that integrates the portfolio of Partners for the Amazon Platform Acceleration and Impact Investment Program. Cupuaçu comes from the south of Bahia, produced on a family farm.

Committed to the production chain and the traceability of ingredients, seeking to enhance the value of the farmer and rescue the relationship between city and countryside, Kiro brought to the country the switchel category, which, although of uncertain origin, was already popular among rural workers Americans since the mid-17th century as a natural isotonic. In Brazil, the product is positioned as an alternative to alcoholic beverages, being sold in bars, restaurants and also on the website.

Amazonian ingredients increasingly valued

“We had the desire to launch new flavors for a while, but due to several challenges that arose along our trajectory, this plan ended up being postponed. We did a lot of testing of recipes, flavors, fruits, seeds, in short, and we ended up deciding on these flavors that we're launching now”, says Leeward Wang, one of Kiro's founding partners. “We take care of the origin of the ingredients, and all the stories they bring give a lot of strength to the product, because they are very precious ingredients. ”

The connection with Amazonian suppliers was made by Amazon Hub, an impact business located in São Paulo that connects small and medium producers in the Amazon with consumers throughout Brazil. Rodrigo Ribeiro, from Kiro's team, made the contact.

“I met Rodrigo a few years ago, when he was working on an initiative to preserve pirarucu with Amazonian oils. We met again this year, at the Galpão Biomas of Instituto Auá. They talked about Cambuci, from the Atlantic Forest, and we started talking about Amazonian raw materials. He took samples of fruits and seeds for testing, and we soon began supporting them in their search for suppliers,” says Kaline Rossi, CEO and co-founder of AmazôniaHub,

AmazôniaHub has been building bridges with several partners for the supply of Amazonian ingredients in São Paulo, Curitiba, and more recently with a German buyer that sells vegetable oils and butters for cosmetic purposes.

Manioca, which supplies Cumaru to Kiro, began its trajectory by supplying chefs in large Brazilian restaurants with Amazonian flavors, and now it is already witnessing the diversification of companies interested in the ingredients from the forest.

“Beverage, candy and vegan products industries, among others, are using our flavors to create wonderful products, which, in addition to flavor, are concerned with strengthening our biodiversity. More recently, we started supplying Kiro, which produces a drink full of personality and which we are proud to have as a partner. And also for Amazonika Mundi, which produces meat plant based and started using Amazonian ingredients”, says Paulo Reis, a partner at Manioca responsible for the commercial. 

Photo: Kiro/publicity