Programa de Aceleração da PPA cria plano emergencial para empreendedores amazônicos na crise da Covid-19
Partnership with Mercado Livre is a highlight in action plan for companies accelerated by PPA
By PPA Communication
Translated by Felipe Sá
The crisis and the need for social isolation brought about by the new coronavirus have fully impacted the businesses in the Amazon and, consequently, the communities involved in their productive chains. With the drop in sales, many of these entrepreneurs are in the process of reviewing schedules, planning and adapting to online commerce. The Partnership for the Amazon Platform’s (PPA) Business Accelerator and Impact Investing Program, along with supporters and partners, has moved to strengthen accelerated business.
One of the actions of this emergency plan is the partnership signed with Mercado Livre, e-commerce and financial technology platform from Latin America, which joins PPA to promote the online sale of Amazon biodiversity products on its platform. The initiative is part of the Mercado Livre’s sustainability strategy that, among other goals, seeks to train and support enterprises that already promote positive socio-environmental impacts, in addition to expanding the sale of sustainable products on the platform.
“We understand that e-commerce can be an alternative to the challenges of marketing and logistics in the region, and that encouraging these entrepreneurs contributes to income generation and forest conservation in the territory, in addition to supporting them in this delicate moment of a pandemic”, says Laura Motta, Mercado Livre’s Sustainability Manager.
“The Amazon offers incredible products, which are unknown to most Brazilians. The great challenge today is to stimulate a new economy for the region through entrepreneurs and sustainable businesses that generate income and quality of life for local communities and help conserve the forest. Under the current context, these enterprises have lost access to markets and practically interrupted their activities – since they were not prepared for online commerce. Our main goal in the partnership with Mercado Livre is to open new channels of trade and connect Brazilians a little more with the Amazon rainforest”, says Mariano Cenamo, coordinator of the PPA’s Business Accelerator and Impact Investing Program.
By the end of the year, at least 20 enterprises are expected to be part of the initiative and more than a thousand families from 60 local communities are expected to benefit from the action.
Get to know the emergency action plan
With the isolation due to the pandemic, the PPA Program has reorganized itself and in these months has as its main objective to help businesses to become stronger and more resilient, either by intermediating the flexibility of payments and loans, offering logistical solutions that facilitate remote sales, with partnerships that extend the reach of its products and even offering capital to keep them running. According to Mariano Cenamo, the activities planned for the 2020 acceleration cycle continue, but adapted to the new reality.
The schedule for the 2020 Business Accelerator Program class has also been adjusted. Previously scheduled presential meetings for the first six months of 2020 have been temporarily rescheduled for the second half, depending on what happens. The schedule already provided for remote activities, and with the pandemic, the number of webinars increased in these months.
“Small businesses and startups are at greater risk during the pandemic, especially those at the beginning of its development. We understand that this is a time to support the businesses being accelerated so they can continue to generate positive social and environmental impact, recover and continue their journey more quickly in the future”, said Anna Toness, environmental team leader at USAID, one of the program’s investing organizations.
In June, distance mentoring began, offered in a customized way, according to the needs of each business. The 17 mentors, volunteers, were selected from 106 applicants and will help entrepreneurs in areas such as finance, marketing, management, governance, product development, business modeling, commercial strategy, e-commerce, and others.
Also this month, businesses supported by the Program were able to sign up to access the working capital fund resources.
SITAWI, which in March promoted a round of investment for five businesses accelerated by the Program through its Plataforma de Empréstimo Coletivo (Collective Loan Platform, in English), is supporting entrepreneurs to face this moment. With support from the Humanize Institute and USAID, it made a new long-term loan to the businesses that participated in the round. In practice, for the borrowers, it is as if they had an extended grace period in the initial months of payment of the amount raised by the Platform.
“Each investor and partner of PPA had to look at the resources at hand and give their best to support the impact business, so that they could stay committed to their mission. It was a very coordinated action among the actors and funders involved with PPA, so that we could have a very quick response, to meet the demand of the businesses and to be able to support them. SITAWI’s concern has always been to support these businesses, to strengthen them and to create a financial instrument with credibility for the market and for the people who believed in the impact businesses of the Amazon”, says Andrea Resende, SITAWI’s impact investment manager.
The Program’s Action Plan acts on five different areas at this moment:
- Sales and revenue increase through partnerships that leverage online commerce, institutional purchasing and campaigns;
- Mentoring program and support network, seeking to qualify businesses in areas such as commercial strategy, crisis management, business structuring and personal development;
- Investment review, with easing of loan repayment schedule, review of resource use plan and financial remodeling for the coming months;
- Logistics support, offering distribution solutions, partnerships with transportation and collective freight companies;
- Emergency working capital fund, with contributions of R$ 10,000 to R$ 20,000, as a donation or loan at zero interest.