With only one year in operation, the PPA Acceleration Program (Partnership Platform for the Amazon) has much to celebrate. The 15 accelerated businesses throughout 2019, selected from 81 registered in a call prepared for this purpose, together promoted the preservation, restoration and/or sustainable management of 873 thousand hectares of Amazon Forest.
The businesses generate 251 direct jobs, and 67% of them have women in leadership positions. In all, 43 municipalities and five states are positively impacted by their work, benefiting 110 communities.
Today, the accelerated group forms a network of impact entrepreneurs in the Amazon, with opportunities for cooperation and networking.
“In its first year of operation, the PPA Acceleration Program has achieved recognition and has become a reference for the ecosystem of businesses and investments with impact in the Amazon. We won the 4th Anprotec Incubation and Impact Acceleration Challenge (National Association of Entities Promoting Innovative Enterprises), and we were considered the best program in the northern region. We consolidated a good business portfolio and were highlighted in articles published by Forbes, Folha de São Paulo, Pequenas Empresas Grandes Negócios magazine, Exame magazine, among many others, which brought us national recognition”, says Mariano Cenamo, director of new business at Idesam, an institution that implements the Acceleration Program.
Strengthening the ecosystem of businesses and investments with an impact on the Amazon
The Program invested BRL 1,870,000.00 in accelerated business in 2019. Some startups participated in a business round with investors, which raised an additional BRL 1,100,000.00 invested by USAID, Conexsus, NESsT, SITAWI and Denis Minev in the businesses Manioca, Ração+, Peabiru Produtos da Floresta and Encauchados de Vegetais da Amazônia.
For 2020, the call that selected the 15 businesses participating in the new acceleration group received 201 applications, more than double the previous year. Several of the entrepreneurs also participated in a business round with investors, which totaled BRL 4.8 million invested in nine of the 15 projects in the 2020 class: Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Prátika Engenharia, Tucum Brasil, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Manioca and Onisafra. The investors were SITAWI, USAID, Conexsus, Fundo Vale, Instituto Humanize, FIIMP, Grupo Rede Amazônica and Althelia Funds, almost all members of the PPA.
This increase in the number of subscribers and the amount dedicated by investors to these businesses points to the strengthening of the Program. The 15 businesses selected to participate in the acceleration in 2020 are already preparing to start the journey this month.
The new business portfolio is more diversified, including initiatives located in the states of Amazonas, Pará, Mato Grosso, Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina. For the first time, the Call for Businesses opened the possibility of registration for companies based in other regions of the country, as long as they are willing to open an address in the northern region within six months after the beginning of the Program.
The initiatives connect with 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 2030 Agenda. The selected businesses bring solutions in agriculture and sustainable livestock, forest management and production, environmental products and services, education for environmental conservation, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, among others.
“The Acceleration Program is an important model for the Amazon, because it is preparing entrepreneurs and social businesses to have sustainable growth and, at the same time, produce results involving communities and preserving the forest. If we want models that replace an illegal or unsustainable economy, we need to support businesses, startups, ideas that go in that direction. And this program is doing that,” says Ted Gehr, director of USAID Brazil, PPA’s strategic partner.
Innovation and networking
One of the peculiarities of the PPA Acceleration Program is its customization according to the needs of entrepreneurs in the Amazon. And also, co-creation with an extensive network of partners and with the first accelerated group. Some of the entrepreneurs had already participated in other acceleration processes but reported that none of them were as attentive to the peculiarities of the region.
A network of supporters and partners has also endorsed and actively participated in the design of the Program, which is constantly evolving and adapting to the needs of the business. This network includes companies, civil society organizations and private social investors (philanthropy).
“We believe in strengthening the economy of the Amazon region by supporting businesses with impactful solutions and guided by sustainability. The PPA Acceleration Program is an excellent opportunity to strengthen innovative initiatives, which generate income and value biodiversity. These are businesses with inclusive and fair practices, which preserve the environment and increase the economic development of the entire region,” says Márcia Côrtes, sustainability manager at the Instituto Humanize.
This mix of companies, organized civil society, and philanthropy is also present among investors mobilized for the business rounds promoted by the Program. For ventures in the initial phase, it is often difficult to find investors who work with lower value tickets, which makes it difficult for businesses in the early stages to access funding, which need smaller contributions to run. This is also an important contribution from PPA to these startups, as pointed out by Andrea Resende, director and responsible for the impact investment area at SITAWI.
“SITAWI has a history of partnership with PPA and other projects aimed at impacting 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, of bringing together different types of investors and capital to enable financing these businesses, is essential, because companies and businesses will only become big if they have the first, the second check. We are happy to further expand SITAWI’s participation in this new round, with technical support in the selection and evaluation of business and as the main investors”, she evaluates.
The Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) is a collective action platform, led by the private sector, which seeks to build innovative, tangible and practical solutions for sustainable development, conservation of biodiversity, forests and natural resources in the Amazon. It operates through four thematic groups (WGs): (1) Entrepreneurship, impact investing and accelerating sustainable business; (2) Strategic investment opportunities, based on tax incentives and the bioeconomy; (3) Strengthening Amazonian value chains and local sourcing; (4) Strengthening relations between communities and companies based on integrated territorial management and the Social and Environmental Uses of Private Reserves.