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Accelerators support businesses that generate income in the Amazon


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With almost 5 million square kilometers, the Brazilian Amazon has great potential for producing goods from natural resources. This ability, however, is not fully utilized.

Between 2017 and 2019, 64 products were classified as “compatible with the forest” and generated annual revenue of US$ 298 million (R$ 1.6 billion), according to a study by the Amazônia 2030 project. This value represents only 0.17% of the global markets of agroforestry chains.

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To give you an idea, in 2019, Bolivia raised around US$ 190 million (R$ 1 billion) with the export of Brazil nuts, while Brazil itself generated US$ 33 million (R$ 175 million) with selling the same product. The forest area in the neighboring country (824,000 km²) is about one sixth of Brazil’s.

Today, the Brazilian Amazon generates a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of only R$ 660 billion (9% of the national GDP) and faces several socioeconomic problems. Among the 6 states with the lowest GDP in the country, 5 are in the region.

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“It is not possible to accept that a place with so much forest area does not have this sector as a major base of its economy”, says Mariano Cenamo, co-founder of Idesam (Institute for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon).

In the opinion of Salo Coslovsky, professor at New York University and author of the Amazon 2030 project study, when talking about a sustainable economy in the Amazon, the debate tends to turn to the carbon market, the pharmaceutical industry and ways of commercialization of raw material.

According to him, these are valid options, but there is a huge potential that is not explored. “We are seeing, for example, a growing incentive for eating less processed products, and that is where the Amazon needs to enter the debate.”

One of the main obstacles in this direction, according to Coslovsky, is the lack of formal organization by local producers. “Even when there are cooperatives of extractivists, they lack a sense of collectivity among them, so that together they can obtain shared resources.”

To help local entrepreneurs, Mariano Cenamo created the AMAZ accelerator, which, since 2021, has held an annual call for ventures with the potential for a positive impact and that are committed to starting operations within six months of the acceleration. The forecast for the next call is in May 2023.

According to Cenamo, one of Idesam’s goals has always been to encourage businesses that set out to solve socio-environmental problems in the region. However, he noticed that there was an imbalance between the level of maturity sought by investors and that presented by local entrepreneurs.

The selected proposals receive an initial check of R$ 200,000 and, over the course of six months, obtain other support, such as legal advice and marketing. The resource comes from a BRL 25 million financing fund that should be invested in impact businesses by 2030.

So far, 18 companies have already been accelerated by Idesam, six of them from AMAZ. By the end of this year, six more initiatives will receive the investment.

“After this journey, the business remains with us in the portfolio and we seek new funding so that they can grow more”, says Cenamo.

One of the “accelerated” was Da Tribu, a sustainable fashion social company from Pará. The venture has the participation of the community of Pedra Branca, on the island of Cotijuba, and involves around 25 people, who extract the latex from the rubber tree, color it and produce the threads, which are the raw material of the pieces.

“We saw that it is possible to re-signify business models and unite the technological knowledge of the urban area with the knowledge of the forest”, says Tainah Fagundes, a partner at the company.

For her, AMAZ’s acceleration was essential. “We had already done other accelerations, but the AMAZ program was thought from the Amazon reality”, she says.

Another example of an initiative that drives business in the Amazon comes from the Amazon Entrepreneurship Center, which runs five entrepreneurial education and pre-acceleration programs for young people in the region, with support and funding from several companies, such as mining companies Vale and Hydro.

“This year alone, around 30 simultaneous acceleration processes were opened, all with sustainability requirements”, says Vitor Alves, director of Açaí Valley, Association of Technology and Innovation of Startups of the State of Pará.

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