Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) quadruples its impact investment in the Amazon

 Startups proposing environmental and social solutions for the Amazon will receive R$ 4.8 million from PPA in 2020

Nine Brazilian startups were selected to participate in the Acceleration Program run by the Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA): Na Floresta, Coex Carajás, Oka Sucos, Prátika Engenharia, Tucum Brasil, Academia Amazônia Ensina, NavegAM, Manioca, and Onisafra. On December 5, they took part in the program’s second business round with impact investors, institutes and philanthropic foundations in Manaus. This year’s investors were SITAWI, USAID, Conexsus, the Vale Fund, the Humanize Institute, FIIMP (Foundations and Institutes of Impact), the Amazon Network Group and Althelia Funds, almost all of which are members of the PPA.

In total, R$ 4.8 million were invested in the areas of food production, power generation, sustainable extraction, environmental education, river transportation logistics, and trading platforms. This is four times as much as the total investment made under the program in 2018: R$ 1.1 million. “This business round has exceeded our expectations. We were surprised by how developed all the participants were, and also how ready they are to receive investments and start expanding,” said Mariano Cenamo, PPA Executive Coordinator and IDESAM New Business Director. “This round has been a little different from last year’s when many businesses were still in their modeling stages or were beginning their operations. For this new group, a key focus will be the development of strategies for measuring and communicating the impact of their activities,” he added.

Ted Gehr, Director of USAID Brazil, noted that “in addition to increasing of participants and the volume of investment from year to year, I was impressed by the quality of presentations. They seriously considered their business plans, and showed great enthusiasm for their products and services, as well as for the sustainable development of the Amazon."

Investing in a future that starts now

Before negotiations began, CEOs and investors joined a roundtable on impact investing in the Amazon. Their discussions highlighted how these innovative and pioneering businesses are transforming economic development in the Amazon, and the importance of having technical and economic mechanisms to foster such changes.

Denis Minev, CEO of Bemol and a member of the PPA, believes that the Acceleration Program and the investment rounds have already shown positive results in a very short time: “Many people talk about the bioeconomy, which is an important area for the Amazon as a whole. However, there is a lot of talk, but very few people are actually creating things that will effectively improve living conditions in the region as a result of bioeconomy. This PPA initiative is already showing that it is possible to create new companies and mobilize good and sensible business people, scientists and entrepreneurs who really know the Amazon, and thus build a more prosperous future here.”

Márcia Côrtes, Sustainability Manager of the Humanize Institute, also highlights Brazil's bioeconomic potential: “The Humanize Institute decided to join the PPA because it believes that there is huge business potential in the Amazon and that it needs investment and research to move forward. These entrepreneurs are pioneers in promoting businesses that have a purpose and may lead to positive impacts. The PPA has managed to identify this network of sustainable businesses and entrepreneurs that are already working in the forest. This new trend indicates how environmental issues will be addressed in the future: businesses that keep the forest standing, restore and preserve resources, and are smart at generating income and prosperity for the people that live in the forest.”

The Vale Fund, which has been supporting local development projects in the Amazon for 10 years through philanthropic actions, has been paying more attention to the region's expanding impact business ecosystem: “During our time here, we have learned that transformation is not possible unless we offer local people new economic possibilities, and a mindset change. And we cannot do that through traditional philanthropy,” says Márcia Soares, from the Vale Fund.

An investment that makes a difference 

“What the PPA does is critical: it brings together different types of investors and capital, and thus enables funding opportunities. Businesses can only grow if they have something to start with. We are happy to further expand SITAWI's participation in this new round, offering technical support to select and assists the participating businesses, while acting as major investors,” said Andrea Resende, SITAWI's Director and Head of Impact Investing.

This year's business round included nine of the 15 startups selected for the  Acceleration Program starting in 2020. Eight will receive financing. Also, two startups that were in the PPA Acceleration Program last year have successfully competed again for investments. 

The PPA Entrepreneur Award was given to three of the businesses selected to be accelerated next year: Instituto Ouro Verde, Serras Guerreiras de Tapuruquara and Cacauway received a US$ 2,500 prize.

Artur Coimbra, the owner of Na Floresta, received the largest investment ticket in the business round. Their main product is Na'kau, a bar of chocolate they started producing in 2017 with cocoa purchased from riverine and agroextractive communities in the Amazon: “We've been through a lot, and had to overcome many obstacles to survive. This money will help us continue working. It will benefit everyone who supports us, and allow us to do even more. This PPA Acceleration Program will also teach us how to listen to each other and help us improve our business models, financial management, output, etc. In other words, we'll become more professional. The Amazon needs this, and it is our commitment to serving the people here,” he says.

NavegAM focuses on, a major bottleneck faced by all businesses in the region: river transportation logistics and created an app that helps boat owners, passengers, producers and buyers to use the routes more efficiently. The company will receive investment money and free adds to advertise on television. “We got more than twice as much as we’d asked for. We will invest all of it in developing solutions focused on the Amazon, seeking to overcome the bottlenecks related to passenger and freight transportation”, says Mr. Geferson Oliveira, one of the founders of the company. He dreams of mapping the spare space in boats for passengers and cargo, in real-time, to assist in matching logistics and maximizing boat transport space. 

>> Click here to learn more about the businesses that attracted investments and all other participants in the 2020 Acceleration Program (in Portuguese).

About PPA and its Acceleration Program

The Acceleration Program is led by a group of PPA companies and is coordinated by IDESAM. It receives strategic and financial support from USAID, CIAT, the Humanize Institute, and the Vale Fund. 

The Partnership Platform for the Amazon (PPA) is a private sector-led collective action platform that seeks to build innovative, tangible and practical solutions for sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity, forests and natural resources in the Amazon. It operates through four thematic groups (TGs): (1) Entrepreneurship, impact investing and sustainable business acceleration; (2) Strategic investment opportunities based on tax incentives and bioeconomy; (3) Strengthening Amazon value chains and local procurement; and (4) Strengthening relations between communities and companies based on integrated territorial management and Socio-Environmental Uses of Private Reserves.

If you wish to learn more about PPA companies and organizations, click here.