The last face-to-face workshop of the first class of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) Acceleration Program took place on August 28 to 30 in Alter do Chão, Pará. Focused on finance, investments and storytelling, the meeting brought together entrepreneurs throughout three days to advance on topics such as online marketing for Amazonian products, introduction to accounting, net income and cash flow, income statement, future projections and Pitch Deck and storytelling. The facilitators were Leonardo Letelier and Fernanda Dativo, from Sitawi, and Laura Motta, from Mercado Livre.
The first two days were intended to address issues of online trade in Amazonian products and accounting. Laura Motta shared with the entrepreneurs the lessons learned by Mercado Livre and tips to enhance the commercialization of products online. And Fernanda Dativo advanced with the group in valuation, analysis of financial statements, creation of performance indexes and construction of information for decision making and attracting investments.
“We have to think about how to value the production process in favor of online commerce, to generate brand positioning and storytelling. In the case of the Amazon, many of the products will not have the expected production speed in the southeast of the country, for example, so it is nice to value the production process by detailing the steps and informing the consumer. What could be a problem can turn into an opportunity with the appreciation of work, the process and the impact it generates”, pointed out Laura.
In the approach to finance, Fernanda started the workshop stating that finance is not an exact science, but a source of information: “It is important to keep in mind how to show and interpret, but there is nothing exact. The biggest pains of entrepreneurs are to understand the operation by itself, the potential for outreach, if it is profitable, if it needs to change, expenses that are not part of the operation and cause losses, forecast costs and understand production capacity, call investors, and make decisions, understand in order to detect problems before they happen”.
“This financial language, which is not easy, was shared with us very smoothly. Here we have businesses at very different stages, and despite this the way the concepts were presented made them understood by everyone. I never saw anything about finance and investments in such a didactic way”, says César De Mendes, from the Chocolate de Mendes company.
On the third day of the workshop, Leonardo Letelier, CEO of Sitawi, advanced with entrepreneurs in approaches focused on determining types of investment or financing suitable for each stage of the business and in the building a Pitch Deck and Storytelling.
The group had the opportunity to review the pitches presented for the 2018 PPA Call for Business, and the result was presented by the entrepreneurs in the last practical activity of the workshop.
“It is a process of looking back at that pitch that we made at the beginning of the Acceleration Program, for reflection. We realized the deficiencies it had: our team was not in the presentation, nor were our numbers, competitors and place in the market. The trick of the trade here today was reflection and maturity”, says Joziane Alves, from 100% Amazônia.
Leonardo Letelier assesses that the entrepreneurs did well in reformulating the pitches and know what needs to be improved: “Whoever did their homework here, thought about what was going to be presented, really made better presentations”.
For the coordinator of the PPA Acceleration Program, Ana Carolina Bastida, the last workshop was important to close the acceleration journey, which previously led entrepreneurs to an impact thesis, business model, market and management. “We now address financial issues, the main indicators, and this is important for them to know how to interpret the accounting for their business and from there make decisions. And also, what kind of information should be brought to investors, and what types of investment are most suitable for each business profile. The elaboration of this elevator pitch brings together a little of everything they have seen in the Program – market, impact, organizational capacity, team – and helps to train storytelling”.
Entrepreneurs from 10 of the 15 accelerated businesses visited the Association of Women Rural Workers of Belterra (Amabela), in Belterra, about 40 minutes from Alter do Chão, a reference in the defense of the cultivation and consumption of food without pesticides in the region and in the care of the environment. In all, 45 women are dedicated to planting in their backyards.
The group heard a little about the history of Amabela’s creation and work and was welcomed with a dinner specially prepared for the meeting. César De Mendes, from the Chocolate De Mendes venture, already knew the work of women, especially one of the specific products, Cupulate, similar to chocolate, only made with cupuassu. In partnership with Amabela, De Mendes will soon launch a cupulate bar.
“In November I will bring a drying kiln, oven and two large freezers here. They lack the physical structure for this cupulate production process. They will offer the raw material for the bar and I will help them with standardization. The social technology is theirs, and we are going to bring this story of Amabela into the product, so that the consumer knows all of this”, says Cesar.
Connections have been important throughout the PPA Acceleration Program, both with the potential to cross business and strengthen these entrepreneurs.
“The Program as a whole has been very good at connections and learning, realizing that we are not alone in terms of impact and the Amazon. It surprised me a lot, and it helped especially in our vision of impact. Our motivation has always been to make Amazonian flavors better known and accessible, because we are from the gastronomy area. But we didn’t see ourselves as an impact business. We started to measure and value this in our communication and internally in the team”, says Joanna Martins, from Manioca.
Mariano Cenamo, executive coordinator of PPA and director of new business at Idesam, believes that the training cycle of the Program as a whole was well designed according to what this group of entrepreneurs brought as a need – impact, market, management and finance -, and that the connection established between them is really a force. “These meetings were also very important to expand this connection. On the first day of the first workshop they were distant, on the second they were closer, wanting to get to know each other and their business better. In the second workshop, there was already a closer interaction, and at each meeting we realize that they know each other better and already think about doing business together. That was the richest of capabilities”.
At the end of the workshop, the entrepreneurs were asked to define how they felt in one word. The words that most appeared were gratitude, partnership, motivation, learning, challenge, knowledge and hope.
Although the series of face-to-face workshops has ended, the group continues to receive individual guidance until the end of the year. Some of the entrepreneurs even applied for the business rounds of the Call held this year, which will select another 15 entrepreneurs to participate in the Acceleration Program in 2020 and/or participate in the Investment Round in December 2019.
“Now we help to prepare those who are going to apply for investment, and we work to strengthen this network continuously, seeking to enable these possibilities of connection, doing business together, strengthening them. This is the big challenge”, says Ana Carolina.
To learn more about the PPA Acceleration Program and accelerated business in 2019, visit: http://aceleracao.ppa.org.br/