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Amazon at Casa Floresta standing opens call for sociobiodiversity business

Created in June 2020, the movement Amazon at Home, Forest Standing opens 2022 as a business call aimed at supporting 20 businesses and community-based organizations that work with products from Amazonian socio-biodiversity. The initiative, coordinated by the Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon (Idesam), by AMAZ Acceleradora de Impacto and by Climate Ventures, aims to optimize logistics and increase the market visibility of these ventures. Applications are open from March 14th to April 1st, through the link amazoniaemcasa.org.br/chamada. 

Impact businesses that sell Amazonian products and are committed to keeping the forest standing will be selected. The next step is to participate in a training and promotion program focused on logistics and commercialization. 

For Guilherme Faleiros, selection and acceleration analyst at AMAZ and Idesam, this first call for business was motivated by the need for market access presented by small enterprises that operate in the Amazon and that face common challenges of marketing and logistics of their products for the main commercial hub in Brazil, the Southeast region. 

“Together, we will strengthen our Amazon brand collective and our learning community. They will be exchanges that develop innovative solutions and commercial strategies to bring traditional flavors and knowledge to the home of Brazilian consumers, conserving the forest and generating income for local populations”, says Guilherme. 

Impact businesses that already have a product tested on the market and operate in the Amazon can apply. The projection is, in two years (i.e., two program cycles), to support 50 Amazonian sociobiodiversity ventures that contribute to the conservation of 25 thousand hectares of forest and the generation of income for more than 1 thousand families in the regions of operation. The expectation is for a reduction of 50% in the logistical cost of the operations of these companies and an increase of 100% in the revenue of the brands involved. 

Coordinated by Idesam, AMAZ and Climate Ventures, the movement has as strategic partners and funders Fundo Vale, GIZ, Mercado Livre and Instituto Humanize, as well as a network of partners formed by CLUA, Conexsus, Origens Brasil (Imaflora), Local.e , Instituto AUÁ and Costa Brasil.

For more information or clarification of doubts, interested parties should contact the e-mail amazoniaemcasa@prosas.com.br.   

regional support 

In the last two years, 15 impact businesses in the North were supported through marketing campaigns with digital influencers, in partnership with Mercado Livre. According to Guilherme, the return was positive, with businesses registering an increase in sales during the activation of these campaigns and being able to expand them to states where they still did not have customers. 

CEO of Manioca, one of the ventures supported by AMAZ, businesswoman Joanna Martins points out the accelerator as essential for the development of the brand. “It was a help that made our management more mature and that expanded the contacts of our network throughout Brazil. And this is either by strengthening the bioeconomy view in the region and impacting businesses or by accessing financing, credit and guidance for the use of these tools. In general, everything that AMAZ has brought us was fundamental for us to reach the stage we are at, with excellent results and growth plans, both in terms of impact and financial return”, he comments.

>> Learn more about the movement





Interview: Denis Minev

Photo: Rodrigo Duarte/AMAZ

When it comes to the Amazon, Denis Minev, CEO of Bemol and one of the investors and founders of the impact accelerator AMAZ, is an interlocutor with varied experiences and who understands the role of different players to boost the impact ecosystem in the region.

Minev was Secretary of Planning and Economic Development of the State of Amazonas, when he helped to design institutions such as the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) – of which he is a Counselor – and the Museum of the Amazon (Musa). 

He is also an angel investor who takes risks when selecting part of his investment portfolio, understanding that this is part of the search for solutions that have a positive impact on the region's economy. 

Although he recognizes that the impact ecosystem is still in its infancy, Minev sees in initiatives such as AMAZ a business catalyst that can impress by example and the positive impact generated and, thus, attract attention and investors who realize how this new economy can generate good opportunities. . 

In this interview with AMAZ, Minev highlights the importance of taking advantage of the wave of attention focused on the forest to leverage a more virtuous development, which looks at the conservation of the Amazon, but also brings prosperity to its populations. 

“We had three waves of attention to the Amazon. We lost the first two, which involved Chico Mendes and Marina Silva. There was a drop in deforestation, but there was no proportional improvement in living conditions. Our role is to try to take advantage of this third wave, this global mobilization that looks at the region with interest, and try to translate that into what would be a vision of prosperity in the Amazon.”

How do you evaluate the impact ecosystem in the Amazon region?

Denis Minev (DM) I still have the feeling that he is incipient, which bothers me. And this is not a criticism of entrepreneurs. My dream is for the next Guilherme Leal (Natura) to be from the Amazon. We are not at that point yet, of having this qualification among the Amazonians. So we matter. One thing I would expect from this new generation of businesses that are being accelerated by AMAZ is that they plant this seed a little deeper among the riverside people, with the communities with which they have contact, in order to inspire this movement.

Idesam and PPA (Plataforma Parceiros pela Amazônia) have been working on this front, and I have been working with Idesam for a few years now. The progress is extraordinary. But it is an advance from a small base, which still has a lot of room to develop. We do not have, for example, the riverine entrepreneur. My dream is to have this entrepreneur, who comes out of his community and manages to acquire sufficient education and business vision at the same time, perhaps influenced by some of these startups he may come into contact with.

What does it take for this ecosystem to develop faster?

DM I don't think we can be very fast, because we need examples. And there is nothing better than a successful startup. So we have to wait for them to work out to serve as an example, to demonstrate that sustainable businesses with an impact on the Amazon are good business. While we don't have these examples on a reasonable scale, I find it difficult to accelerate much. There are people who think about investing, but do not invest because they are not seeing it happen. For me, AMAZ is an attempt to set an example, it is for us to point out and show that this works here.

And we can do a little more. In AMAZ Business Calls, we encourage people to think and reflect on how to undertake. AMAZ is going to be really impactful when it takes at least two or three of these startups and they have a fair amount of success. There the game changes.

The Amazon today is in the spotlight. How to take advantage of this moment to enhance the development of new businesses that generate positive impacts?

DM Today everyone only talks about the Amazon, this movement is intense. But the international pressure is not for the development of the Amazon, but to protect the forest. We have to look for ways to stop deforestation and improve people's quality of life. And we are here at AMAZ to balance that. We are small, but if each of these companies is multiplied by 10, we will amplify the impact. 

When I was in the government of Amazonas, the Amazon Fund was being created. My suggestion to them was to create a venture capital fund, or to send the best professionals here, to develop businesses and entrepreneurs. But they ended up creating a philanthropic fund to conserve the forest.

You can defend the forest against deforestation, but you have to attack deforestation by offering alternatives. This is something generational, we're going to take at least 20 years to change that key. This wave of attention to the Amazon is just beginning, I hope it will be long and lasting. 

In the Amazon Concertation, what we want is to propose how we can complete the Amazon by becoming prosperous. Businesses like Inocas, BRCarbon and Floresta S/A, for example, can become big cases, and if this works, we will strengthen this wave. 

AMAZ also serves as a kind of stamp and opens doors for the right investors, who have these values.

You have said that we are in the third wave of opportunities to change the key to the development of the Amazon, and that we have lost the first two…

DM There have already been waves of attention to the Amazon, we are in the third of them. My view is that we missed the previous two, which came with Chico Mendes and Marina Silva. There was a drop in deforestation, but there was no proportional improvement in living conditions, and then the gains are wasted. I think our role is to try to take advantage of this wave, this global mobilization, which looks at the Amazon with interest, but with a degree of ignorance, and translate this into what would be a vision of prosperity with sustainability in the region. 

It cannot come from outside. An outsider will not be able to imagine what prosperity in the Amazon means. Looking at a riverside man who today has low education, low life expectancy, and thinking about this equation on how to change his life so that he no longer needs help and can prosper. This has to come from us. And I think this construction is what I expect from this wave of international attention. May we be able to receive resources and attention and translate that into prosperity. 

Impact businesses are the best for us to take advantage of this third wave. They are also important for transforming the region and inspiring other initiatives. 

What would Amazonian prosperity be?

DM We have 25 million people in the Brazilian Amazon. We also have the other neighboring Amazons. It is not possible to create a fence around the forest and try to isolate these 25 million people. A solution must be found, which I will call prosperity. You expect your child to have a better life than yours and your grandchild to have a better one than your child. There is no specific solution, but it is a principle that should also govern the environmental issue. 

My grandfather, Samuel Benchimol, who was a scholar of the region and used to write a lot on the subject, always said that the Amazon needs to be treated on four bases – economically viable, socially just, politically balanced and environmentally adequate. Any solution for the region would have to go through these four bases. And he wrote this in the 1980s, but it remains applicable in 2020, and unfortunately this is still ignored by most people who interact with the region. 

>> Read the interview with Antonio Ribeiro (Move Social) and Lucas Harada (Sense-Lab)

AMAZ@3 (1)

Amaz promotes first face-to-face workshop with selected businesses in 2021

Photo: Rodrigo Duarte/AMAZ

All participants were vaccinated and properly tested against covid-19

Between March 8 and 10, female entrepreneurs from the six businesses selected by AMAZ in 2021 – BRCarbon, Floresta S/A, Inocas, Mahta, SoulBrasil Cuisine and Vivalá – participated in the first face-to-face workshop of the acceleration journey, which took place in Manaus, on the banks of the Rio Negro.

The meeting, facilitated by Sense-Lab, addressed OKRs (objectives and key results), socio-environmental impact management and structure and governance. 

Connections marked the three days. Artur Coimbra and Joanna Martins, founders of two businesses in AMAZ's portfolio – Na'kau/Na Floresta and Manioca – reported experiences, challenges and opportunities to undertake in the Amazon and participated in conversation circles with the group. 

Marcus Biazatti, from Idesam, spoke with entrepreneurs about the collective brand Inatú, which sells essential oils produced by Amazonian communities and also works with sustainable wood management. 

Results, positive impact generated, monitoring methodologies, the nuances of relationships with communities and production chains, forestry entrepreneurship, business and market management were presented.

Connecting entrepreneurs with other impact businesses already operating in the Amazon is one of the offerings of the acceleration journey, providing exchanges that can shorten the solution of problems from similar previous experiences. In addition, connections have the potential to generate partnerships between them, whether in sharing experiences or in market strategies. 

present investors

Photo: Rodrigo Duarte/AMAZ

Another connection provided during the meeting involved some AMAZ investors operating in the Amazon. 

In a conversation with the business, Denis Minev, Ilana Minev, Marcelo Forma, Mariana Barella and Matheus Faria participated in a frank and open dialogue, addressing topics such as the current stage of the impact business ecosystem in the Amazon, the importance of offering alternatives to deforestation that integrate the populations of the region, the need to invest in research and development to leverage a new economy in the region and to involve academia.

The group also highlighted the importance of realizing that there are different Amazons, which require different solutions, and therefore there is no path that will be common to all. The importance of new generations in designing a new Amazon economy and also in finding the 'right' investors to leverage impact businesses. 

Another point addressed concerns the profile of investors and what they expect from startups.

For Daniel Cabrera, from Vivalá, the highlights of the workshop were deepening the strategic alignment and advancing what was built at the pre-acceleration meeting, in November 2021, in addition to the review of impact indicators. He also highlights the connection with investors and Amazonian businesses: 

“The integration with AMAZ investors, who are people, those we met, mostly from the north, was very important for us to get closer to relevant actors in the region, people who are directly in the private sector, generating impact. In addition to the integration with all the other entrepreneurs, who even working in very different markets contribute in a very rich way with their visions, their experiences, and this exchange is extremely relevant.”

“The high point is precisely the meeting, the conviviality between this group. And specifically two things for me are very valuable. One was meeting with investors in the region, and the other thing is working with the impact model, which I think we still need to go deeper into,” says Maximiliano Petrucci, from Mahta.

For Letícia Feddersen, from SoulBrasil Cuisine, the connections and experiences with the other participants of the acceleration have been rich and have brought a lot of learning, especially in terms of management and thinking about the impact that can be generated. She also highlights the connection with other businesses operating in the Amazon and with investors:

“With the meeting with investors and other businesses in the region, I felt like I was going through an “MBA” in the culture, experience and business of the Amazon. The connection with other businesses in the region is very rich, and goes beyond acceleration, generating exchanges, synergies, even possible commercial partnerships”

>> Read interview with Denis Minev

>> Discover the six businesses that participate in this acceleration journey