The Natura Amazon Challenge announces the winning startups
The enterprises Asproc, Arcafar, Da Tribu, and MEU were the winners of the "The Natura Amazon Challenge: Businesses for a Standing Forest." This pre-acceleration program, carried out by Natura and Artemisia, was created with the aim of supporting entrepreneurs who have socioenvironmental impact solutions (specifically in the Amazon region). These startups stood out among 140 other businesses and were selected to receive exclusive mentorship from Artemisia, an organization committed to the promotion of businesses that make a social impact in Brazil.
The program was based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) an initiative of the United Nations (UN) to recognize startups promoting issues related to biodiversity, the standing forest economy, education, infrastructure, and well-being. The entrepreneurs of the four winning solutions and another 13 ventures were selected by the program for a five-day high impact immersion in the Amazon, with empowering experiences and training plus a visit to an agricultural-extractive community in the State of Pará.
"Supporting entrepreneurship to create innovative solutions as well as investing in knowledge in order to make the vast natural heritage of the Amazon turn into a social heritage for the local inhabitants is absolutely critical," says Guilherme Leal, founding partner of Natura and a participant of the startups evaluation board, which is formed by program mentors and expert guests.
The program was praised by the participants. "We had the opportunity to meet other businesses that have also experienced difficulties, but continue to expand, without terminating their care of the forest," says Tainah Fagundes, founder of Da Tribu, in the State of Belém, which offers opportunities for low-income women, to receive training and employment through sustainable fashion and forest technology.
For Clarissa Melo, founder of MEU (originally called the Movement of University Entrepreneurship), the experience provided personal and professional growth. "We have the desire to solve problems and, when you actually have the opportunity to visit the communities and meet people, the experience becomes more intense," she says. The methodology of the startup connects the knowledge of universities to small businesses with the objective of developing students and entrepreneurs in urban and rural areas. The company operates in Manaus and intends to reach other cities in the interior of the State of Amazônia.
Asproc (Association of Rural Producers of Carauari), another winner of the Challenge, aims to increase the supply chain of the Pirarucu - a native fish of the Amazon region - in the riverine communities of a region called Médio Juruá (AM). "The idea is to enhance our technology in order to develop new products and reach other markets. Since Natura works with supply chains in the Amazon, we see this program as an opportunity to learn and have new experiences," explains Adevaldo Dias the project developer.
Arcafar (Regional Association of Rural Households of Pará) was also a winner. The institution provides a technical course on agroindustry for young people from different regions of the state. It offers basic training, suited to local realities, with the objective of educating these young people and providing them with alternative sources of income and working conditions, so they can remain in the region and benefit from sustainable agriculture (which does not harm the environment).
"The businesses participating came from various parts of Brazil, offering synergetic solutions within the context of the Amazon. For some, the experience in a riverside community was unprecedented, enabling to share experiences with residents and farmers of the region, giving them a deeper understanding of the local economy," says Paula Sato, project manager of Artemisia, who closely monitored the five-day immersion process. "Access to business tools and content, offered by Artemisia, enabled the entrepreneurs to develop a critical eye about their solutions leading to rapid progress. They all proved to be highly focused on generating socioenvironmental impact in the region. Moreover, a strong sense of teamwork was strengthened among the participants throughout the course", she concludes.
The "Natura Amazon Challenge: Business for a standing forest" is part of the Amazon Project. It was created by Natura to foster new business models for the region, investing in science, technology, innovation, institution building and the stimulation of entrepreneurship. "We believe that it is possible for the Amazon to be worth more standing than cut to the ground. And that the Amazon could be a world reference for innovation, business, and solutions for a more sustainable world," says Renata Puchala, sustainability manager of Natura.
For Maure Pessanha, executive director of Artemisia, the alliance between two players that are a reference in their respective segments brings visibility to an issue of paramount importance to the country. "To be able to bring to a region that is vital to the development of the planet, the concept of social impact makes us very happy. We here at Artemisia believe that this model has the potential to change peoples’ quality of life and in the specific case of the Amazon, also give the world innovative solutions that combine social and environmental impact," the executive said.