Startups selected to participate in the Acceleration Program of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) have met in Manaus, Brazil for a business round with impact investors, institutes and philanthropic foundations. Pitch presentations were held on December 5th 2019, in Manaus.
A grand total of R$4,8 million was invested in 9 social impact businesses, which operate in the fields of food production, energy production, sustainable extractivism, environmental education, fluvial transport logistics and commercialization platform: Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Prátika Engenharia, Tucum Brasil, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Manioca e Onisafra.
The amount invested in these businesses is four times greater than the amount invested in the business round promoted by the PPA in 2018, which raised a total of R$1,1 million. The investors in the 2019 business round were SITAWI, USAID, Conexsus, Fundo Vale, Instituto Humanize, FIIMP, Grupo Rede Amazônica and Althelia Funds, almost all of which are members of the PPA.
“This round has completely exceeded our expectations. We were surprised by the stage of development of the businesses and how ready they were to receive investments and to initiate an expansion process”, evaluates executive coordinator of the PPA and director of New Business division at Idesam, Mariano Cenamo. “This round was a little different from the one we organized last year, especially because a lot of the businesses were still at the modeling phase or at the beginning of their operations. With this new group, one of the main focuses will be to develop strategies of impact measurement and communication.”
Ted Gehr, director of USAID Brazil, highlights that “besides the progress in terms of number of applicants and volume of investments from one year to the next, I was very impressed by the quality of the presentations. It was clear that they had carefully considered their business plans, and the enthusiasm shown for their products and services as well as the sustainable development of the Amazon was evident.”
Investments that make a difference
For social impact businesses in the earlier stages of development, it is often difficult to find investors that work with lower average tickets, which hinders access to resources by these businesses, which need smaller financial investments in order to operate. This is an important contribution of the PPA to these startups, observes Andrea Resende, director and responsible for the impact investment area at SITAWI.
“SITAWI has a partnership history with the PPA and with other projects focused on impact investment and the sustainable development of the Amazon. To support the development of new sustainable business models in the region is one of our biggest priorities. This commitment of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon to gather different kinds of investors and capital to enable the financing of these businesses is critical, because these ventures will only grow to become big if they have a first and a second check. We are happy that we are able amplify SITAWI’s participation in this new round by providing technical support in the selection and evaluation of these businesses and by acting as one of its main investors.”
8 out the 15 startups selected for the PPA’s 2020 Acceleration Program have participated in the business round, besides two other businesses that were part of the Program in 2019: Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Tucum, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Nossa Fruits, Manioca e Onisafra.The investments in each venture have varied according to their necessity and level of structure.
Other businesses selected for the 2020 Program have also competed for the PPA Entrepreneur Award, which was held during the business round. 3 businesses were awarded R$10k each: Instituto Ouro Verde, Serras Guerreiras de Tapuruquara e Cacauway.
Artur Coimbra, founder of Na Floresta, has received the largest investment of the 2019 business round. His main product is chocolate brand Na’kau, produced since 2017 with amazonian cocoa bought from riverside and agroextractivist communities: “We have experienced a lot of hardship and difficulty just in order to keep existing. With these financial resources, we will work, we will provide a return to everyone that has supported us and we will do even more. We also need PPA’s Acceleration Program, so that we can listen to each other and have help from other people in order to handle things such as our business model, our finances and our numbers better. So that we can get even more professionalized. The Amazon needs it, and our commitment is to serve the people which are here”, said Coimbra.
Another startup receiving investment, NavegAM, wants to solve an important bottleneck facing amazonian businesses: the logistics of fluvial transportation. “We have left the business round with over double the amount we had asked from investors. We will apply it to developing solutions focused on the Amazon and to solving this bottleneck which is, besides passenger transport, fluvial shipping and the difficulty in getting information on this sector”, said Geferson Oliveira, one of the business’ members.
The Acceleration Program is led by a group of companies which are part of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA). It is coordinated by Idesam and it relies on strategic and financial support provided by USAID, CIAT, Instituto Humanize e Fundo Vale. SITAWI is a partner of the Program since 2018.
To know more about the businesses selected by the business round and the participants of the PPA’s 2020 Acceleration Program, visit http://bit.ly/2YyfOhe.