Rodada de investimentos da PPA aporta R$ 4,8 mi em negócios de impacto amazônicos
The initiative stimulates business models that create economic solutions to the sustainable development, generating income for producers, communities and indigenous peoples that keep the forest standing
By Mônica Ribeiro
Translated by Felipe Sá
The startups that were selected to join PPA’s (Partnership for the Amazon Platform) Business Accelerator Program met in Manaus for a business round with impact investors, institutes and philanthropists. The pitches were given on December 5 in Manaus.
In all, R$ 4.8 million were invested in 9 impact businesses that work with food and energy production, sustainable extractivism, environmental education, river logistics and marketing: Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Prátika Engenharia, Tucum Brasil, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Manioca and Onisafra.
What is being invested now is four times higher than what was invested in PPA’s last business round in 2018 which raised R$ 1.1 million. The investors of 2019’s round are SITAWI, USAID, Conexsus, Fundo Vale, Instituto Humanize, FIIMP, Grupo Rede Amazônica and Althelia Funds, almost all of them are PPA’s members.
“This round completely overcame our expectations. We were surprised by the businesses’ stage of development and by how ready they are to receive investments and to start an expansion process”, evaluates Mariano Cenamo, PPA’s Executive Director and Idesam’s New Business Director. “This round was slightly different from the one we carried out last year, mostly because many businesses were still in their modeling stage and beginning their operations. With this new group a lot of attention will be dedicated to developing strategies to measure and communicate their impact”, he says.
Ted Gehr, USAID Brasil’s Director, highlights that “in addition to the real progress made in the number of applicants and in the investment made, I was really impressed by the quality of the presentations. It was clear that they seriously thought about their business models, that they are excited about their products and services and with the sustainable development of the Amazon”.
Investors bet on the future that begins now
Before the negotiations began, CEOs from the companies that are PPA’s members and investors participated in a conference about impact investments in the Amazon that highlighted how innovative these businesses are, that they are at the forefront of the transformation of the Amazon’s economic development and the relevance of technical and financial mechanisms to foster this movement.
Denis Minev, Bemol’s CEO and PPA’s member, assesses that the Business Accelerator Program and the investment rounds already have results despite the short time of operation: “Many people talk about bio-economy, which is a really important subject in the Amazon as a whole, but I see a lot of talk and only a few people creating things that will effectively improve the region’s living conditions using bio-economy. PPA’s initiative is already showing that it is possible to develop new companies, mobilize good and meaningful businessmen, scientists, entrepreneurs that really do know the Amazon to build this more prosperous future here”.
Márcia Cortes, from Instituto Humanize, also reinforces the potential of bio-economy in Brazil: “Instituto Humanize has decided to be part of PPA because it believes that this huge business potential is in the Amazon and it needs investment and research to move forward. These entrepreneurs are pioneers in promoting businesses with purpose and positive impact. PPA could identify this network of entrepreneurs and sustainable businesses that already take place in the forest, and this is the future of the environmental issue. This tendency to have businesses that keep the forest standing and that restore, to preserve with this intelligence of generating income and also prosperity for the people living in the forest”.
Fundo Vale, one of the investors, has been working in the Amazon for ten years supporting local development projects through philanthropy and has been following more closely the expanding impact business ecosystem in the forest: “We learned during all this time that it isn’t possible to transform if we don’t offer new possibilities for the local economy to change mindsets. And this is not only achieved with the traditional model of philanthropy. Today we support tree businesses, but several others have great possibilities of getting connected to the work that Fundo Vale has been doing, including in the area of forest restoration and preservation, when they achieve greater maturity, volume of production and services. This is only the beginning. We have an incredible potential ahead if we help these businesses develop”, says Márcia Soares.
Investment that makes difference
For early stage impact businesses, it is often difficult to find investors working with lower value tickets, making it difficult for early stage businesses to access resources that need smaller inputs to run. This is also an important contribution of PPA to these startups, as pointed out by Andrea Resende, director and head of SITAWI’s impact investment area.
“SITAWI has a history of partnership with PPA and other projects focused on impact investment and sustainable development in the Amazon. Supporting the development of new sustainable business models in the region is one of our priorities. PPA’s work, bringing together different types of investors and capital to make it possible to finance these endeavors is fundamental because companies and businesses will only become big if they have the first, second check. We are happy to further expand SITAWI’s participation in this new round, with technical support in the selection and evaluation of businesses and as key investors”, she says.
8 of the 15 startups that were selected for PPA’s 2020 Business Accelerator Program and 2 others from 2019’s edition participated in this year’s business round: Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Tucum, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Nossa Fruits, Manioca and Onisafra. The investments made in each business varied according to their needs and level of structure.
Other businesses selected for the 2020 Program ran for the PPA Entrepreneur Award, also given during the business round, which awarded three of them with R$ 10,000 each: Instituto Ouro Verde, Serras Guerreiras de Tapuruquara and Cacauway.
Artur Coimbra, owner of Na Floresta, received the largest investment ticket from the business round. Na’kau chocolate is their main product, produced since 2017 with cocoa purchased from riverside and agro-extractivist communities from the Amazon: “We have been through a lot of difficulties and downturns to continue existing. With this resource we will work and reward everyone who supports us and do even more. We also need PPA Business Accelerator Program to listen each other and have help from others to better deal with business model, financial issues, numbers. Become more professional. The Amazon needs this, and our commitment is to serve the people who are here”, he says.
Another startup that received investment is NavegAM, which seeks to solve an important bottleneck for businesses from the Amazon: river transportation logistics. “We left with more than twice of what we had asked the investors for. We will invest everything in developing solutions focused on the Amazon, seeking to solve the issue that this is, in addition to passenger transport and river freight, the difficulty of getting information in this sector”, states Geferson Oliveira, one of the members of the business.
About PPA and its Business Accelerator Program
The Business Accelerator Program is carried out by a group of companies that are members of PPA, coordinated by Idesam and with strategic and financial support from USAID, CIAT, Instituto Humanize and Fundo Vale.
The Partnership for the Amazon Platform is a collective action platform led by the private sector that seeks to foster innovative, concrete and practical solutions to the sustainable development and the conservation of the Amazon’s biodiversity, forests and natural resources. It has four thematic groups: (1) Entrepreneurship, impact investment and sustainable businesses acceleration; (2) Strategic investment opportunities based on fiscal incentives and bio-economy; (3) Strengthening of value chains from the Amazon and local purchases; (4) Strengthening of relations between communities and companies based on integrated territorial management and Socioenvironmental Use of Private Reserves.
To get to know the companies and organizations that are part of the Platform, click here.