Fund designed in partnership with USAID/Brazil invests in businesses with positive impact in the Amazon

In April, the first impact investment Fund signed its first two contracts, offering long-term financing to sustainable businesses in the Amazon with a positive impact on biodiversity. The Althelia Biodiversity Fund (ABF), which will soon change its name to Amazon Biodiversity Fund, is a Mirova Natural Capital investment fund designed in partnership with USAID/Brazil and the Alliance of Bioversity International/CIAT.

The contracts were signed with Manioca, a business that promotes Amazon food products, and Horta da Terra, a producer of dehydrated unconventional food plants (UFPs or PANCs in the Portuguese acronym). The total investment will reach R$10 million, including seed money and long-term capital (2 to 3 years). 

“We wanted to invest in the food chain in the Amazon, and these two companies matched our goals due to their innovative profile. Manioca is already a reference in the area of gastronomy. Horta da Terra is newer, but has a strong base of partners. Both sell products that value biodiversity, and both work with small producers, generating a positive social impact,” says Nick Oakes, investment director of Mirova's strategy for Brazil.

Launched in 2019, the ABF is registered as an Investment and Participation Fund (FIP) for an 11-year term. It was jointly designed with USAID/Brazil and the Alliance of Bioversity/CIAT, with support from members of the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA). 

The fund seeks to overcome some financial challenges faced by startups in the Amazon, offering long-term impact investment, and financing sustainable businesses (learn more about it here). 

Despite the difficulties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Oakes said that fundraising is moving forward, with negotiations involving foreign investments. They expect to raise R$300 million by the end of the year. 

Sustainable alternative – Manioca is a Pará-based company that sells food and beverages made from Amazon products. Its objectives include showcasing products made with regional ingredients and cultivated in a sustainable way to serve consumers in Brazil and abroad. 

Not only will the funding help to promote the consumption of these products, but it will also enhance the value and recognition of sustainable production of Amazon biodiversity. As a result, it could become a viable livelihood strategy for families living in the region, and help to preserve the forest and its biodiversity.

“The funds provided by Mirova will enable us to invest in new products, increase our production, and thus share a taste of the Amazon with the rest of Brazil, and perhaps the world. The investment will also help us strengthen our sustainable performance in the region, valuing the forest and our producers,” said Paulo dos Reis, cofounder and commercial director of Manioca.

Created in 2014 by partners Paulo dos Reis and Joanna Martins, Manioca supplies products from Pará to renowned Brazilian cuisine restaurants, such as DOM, run by chef Alex Atala, and Maní, by chef Helena Rizzo, as well as supermarket chains.

Innovation – Horta da Terra distributes Amazon biodiversity products with high nutritional and functional values. All its production is based on syntropic farming – an agroforestry farming system characterized by the organization, integration, balance, and preservation of energy in the environment. 

Horta da Terra was founded in 2011. It seeks to operate in harmony with local ecosystems, and thus never uses pesticides. In addition, it has developed partnerships with small producers in the region of the municipality of Santo Antônio do Tauá, near Belém, capital of the state of Pará. For the time being, the company sells six species of plants (jambu, chicory, cariru, ora-pro-nobis, vinegar, and taioba), and expects to reach 13 different species in the future.

“With this investment, we intend to accelerate our business model, giving people access to the nutritional and medicinal powers of Amazon plants, and working to preserve the standing forest. We increasingly want to collaborate with society,” adds Bruno Kato, CEO of Horta da Terra.

Learn more about Manioca here, and about Horta da Terra here.