Over R$ 1million awarded to Amazon startup companies at the Sustainable Business and Investment Forum

The I Forum of Impact Investment and Sustainable Business in the Amazon ended on Wednesday (14/11) in Manaus with an allocation of R$1.1 million to four  small sustainable businesses from the region. A further four businesses - Sustente, Onisafra, Da Tribu and Broto were awarded the PPA Prize, receiving R$ 60 thousand in investments.

The event brought together large companies, investors, NGO’s and Amazonic state entrepreneurs to hold a ‘shark-tank’ style competition in which representatives from four companies, chosen from over 80, presented their business in just five minutes to investors such as Sitawi, Nesst, Conexus, Bemol and the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA).

Besides presenting their businesses “live”, the entrepreneurs from Encauchados de Vegetais da Amazônia, Manioca, Peabiru Produtos da Flores e Ração+ had to answer questions from the “sharks” – which were very detailed – including growth plans and how their businesses will increase their social-environmental impact. The entrepreneurs left the session happy, receiving applause from the audience. Joanna Reis, founder of Manioca, a company working with high quality food products, was very emotional when she was announced as a winner.

“It has been a long journey to get here. Thank you very much. I can promise all the team at Manioca is highly engaged to achieve our desired outcomes”, she said after receiving R$ 200 thousand in investment money.


The Forum identified the following challenges:

  1.  Low availability of impact capital;
  2. The need for public policy that addresses the needs of engaged local communities;
  3. Research and development support and structures;
  4. The need for more incubation and acceleration initiatives;
  5. Stronger connections between the current players that are leading change;
  6. Logistics and infrastructure;
  7. Violence in the countryside;
  8. The need for change in business culture and mindset regarding ranching and timber;
  9. Leverage with businesses in the so-called “deep Amazon”, and more involvement of traditional communities;

Opportunities include:  

  1. A growing market for Amazon socio-environmental consumer products that conserve biodiversity;
  2. New resources and finance models being created;
  3. A new generation of people involved in businesses that have open minds and active interests in this space;

“Having an event such as FIINSA in Manaus is really important. Usually, events of this nature happen in the southeast, or in Brasília. This Forum presents the case for an ongoing and increasing amount of activities that support impact investment and sustainable business activities, in turn developing the Amazon”, said Mariano Cenamo, IDESAM’s Senior Researcher and coordinator of PPA.

The Legal Amazon region generates less than 8% of Brazil’s GDP, and impact business can help turn this around while protecting the forest, in fact, it is a crucial way to improve the lives of the people living in the forest.

Over 290 people gathered at FIINSA on the 13-14 November 2018 from several Amazonic states to debate impact investment and business in the region, aiming at connecting various stakeholders – entrepreneurs, investors, accelerators, incubators, companies, institutes, foundations and academia. The shared purpose identified was to foster and boost businesses that focused on valuing and conserving socio-biodiversity, involving traditional communities and seeking new paradigms for sustainable territorial development. Some 80% of the audience attended with the aim of building new connections and networking opportunities, while 50% had already done business in the Amazon.

FIINSA plans to hold another event in 2019 or 2020, and recognizes the challenge of maintaining these stakeholders relations and strengthen the local landscape in the meanwhile.


The study – Impact Investment in the Amazon – Pathways for sustainable development was also launched during FIINSA. It aimed to identify investment mechanisms, types of enterprises, value chains, obstacles and investment opportunities in the region.

“We need attract more stakeholders, and with realistic expectations in order to deal with the specificities of the region”, explained researcher Leonardo Letelier, from SITAWI.

“Investors want scale, added-value, technology, innovation and impact, besides financial return of course. For the entrepreneurs it is important that investors are committed to early-stage business ideas, as explained Laurent Micol, from PECSA, who specialize in recovering degraded pasture land and promoting sustainable livestock breeding in Mato Grosso.

“We get so excited and want to do something big with the results that investors want to see. But if I could start again, we would do half of the 10 thousand hectares we did, in the double of the time”.

The Amazon brand was also pointed out as a great opportunity, but to Raphael Medeiros, executive director of the Amazon Entrepreneurship Center, “the products have to be well designed (packaging) and certified.

“Products are more expensive due to the distance to get to market, and the focus needs to be on product quality and the social environmental impact created.” After many cycles of natural resource exploitation that didn’t leave a legacy, “it is clear that the right path is fair trade that brings positive impacts to the forest and its people,” Mr Medeiros explained.