Effectuation Rio - A Recap
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Meeting of Brazilian ventures from favelas, the Amazon and research centers
Last December I was able to learn about various enterprises, some that were born in the Rocinha favela in Rio de Janeiro, others that were born in the research laboratories of universities in different cities, and also some from the Brazilian Amazon. When I arrived to participate in the event Effectuation Rio I did not expect to find this variety of ventures. All of them have the support of national or regional organizations, which offer financing, advice and networking.
The organizers of Effectuation Rio summoned a total of 25 ventures to meet with Professor Saras Sarasvathy, learn about Effectuation and exchange experiences. Each day was divided into exhibition rounds where entrepreneurs recounted their ventures, at the end the exhibitors talked with Prof. Sarasvathy. This exchange was rich because on the one hand, from the experiences told, it was possible to demonstrate the principles of effectuation; it was no longer a master class, but an experiential class. At the same time, the teacher highlighted different aspects and the entrepreneurs had the opportunity to expand and clarify what was stated. Since each round had different types of entrepreneurship, it was possible to compare the experiences and the routes. This exchange was enriched with questions and opinions from the audience.
Of the exhibitions that most caught my attention, I would like to highlight the following:
- Friend Postman: This venture was born in 2000 out of the need to offer a reliable service to deliver letters in the Favela de Rochina. Partners Elaine Silva and Carlos Pedro observed that the postal service was not efficient within the favela where they live, but many residents came from other cities and maintained contact by letter with their families. The difficulty of postal delivery lies in the fact that not all the streets and alleys of the favelas are accessible by means of transport and/or are clearly identified. This is why Cartero Amigo offers its services with neighbors who not only know the geographical scope of the favela, but also the rules and traditions that govern the favela. The pandemic created lemons for possible lemonade because suddenly the postal flow stopped. Since they already knew the logistics within the favela, in a short time Carteiro Amigo became a means of delivery for Rocinha. Being an innovative business model for the favela context, Carteiro Amigo received funding to adopt appropriate technology and bring its value proposition to other favelas in Rio.
- Imunotera: What would you do if you needed $1 million to validate your venture idea? This is the dimension of the challenge of Imunotera faces, because this venture is developing a treatment to prevent cancer. His proposal is to develop therapeutic vaccines that allow the human body to develop immune defenses. This venture is made up of three researchers from the Public University of Sao Paulo: Luana Raposo, Bruna Maldonado and Mariana de Oliveira, who began their journey to fight cancer during their studies. Despite having well-known international publications and convincing laboratory results, bringing your solution to market requires expensive specialist international clinical trials. And despite the great challenge, not going forward was not an acceptable loss for Luana, Bruna and Mariana, they are pilots on the plane. To demonstrate that their proposal as viable beyond the laboratory, they decided in 2010 to develop a solution to combat human papilloma (HPV), an incurable disease that can lead to uterine cancer. This solution is based on the principles of therapeutic vaccines studied in the laboratory, and in clinical studies in 2020 it was observed that this solution reduced the number of cells infected with HPV, which demonstrated the viability of the vaccines. Based on these results, Imunotera was able to obtain funding for the clinical trials required for cancer prevention. Despite the fact that there is still a long way to go, the accumulated experience allows the entrepreneurs to transmit the certainty that they will achieve their objective, and that from this they will be able to offer innovative alternatives to prevent different types of cancer.
- Saboaria Rondonia: After having suffered skin problems and not having enough money to treat herself, Mareilde Freire investigated how she could produce a cream that would help her. She invested the few resources she had in buying raw materials, and realizing that she could experiment and produce beauty products, she decided to learn more. Mareilde lives in a rural area of Rondônia state in the Amazon, and her environment inspired her to join forces with other women and assemble a mosaic of allies. These women made a commitment to Mareilde to produce beauty products using plants from the Amazon. This is the beginning of Saboaria Rondonia, and what in 2015 was just an idea, over the years has become a community project, which promotes the preservation of the environment, female empowerment, and socioeconomic development in the Amazon. Its products include glycerin soaps, shampoos, creams and oils. They receive support from FINEP to expand their operations and have ventured into the virtual realm with an e-commerce site.
- Syntalgae: In 2019 Giseli Buffon and Antja Dullius completed their doctorate at the University of Taquari Valle in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. And they were in the dilemma of what to do in the future? Not having the certainty of finding a job in the academic field, they ventured to start a venture in Biotechnology. Its value proposition consists of taking advantage of the biodiversity of microalgae to replace conventionally synthesized petroleum products and developing innovative green chemistry inputs. His knowledge in Biotechnology, his doctoral career and his contacts were his” bird in hand” to start your business. So Giseli and Antja looked for a specialization to exchange perspectives on their idea with experts in Germany. The next step was to create a reactor, and after they obtained the necessary financing, they built it and were able to capture their value proposition. Today they are developing a bank of microalgae for various industries, including cosmetology, agriculture, and food. Giseli and Antja left with great uncertainty about the future, and in their entrepreneurial path, they created a future in which they can do business with various multinationals and create a more sustainable world.
- Amazonia Smart Food: After working for several years in the private sector, Priscila Almeida lost her job and gained weight. Her husband, who is a chef by profession, decided to create a healthy diet for Pricila to lose weight. In this process, she realized that together they could create a healthy food proposal, and since 2016 they have been looking for alternatives to offer food products that are not only healthy, but also delicious and easy to prepare. In this process, they were experimenting with products from the Amazon, whose properties allowed them to develop vegan meatballs, sausages and hamburgers, high in protein and free of gluten, cholesterol and lactose. During his presentation, the attendees were able to taste these products and they were really delicious. In order to ensure that its products are free of transgenics, Amazonia Smart Food has a blockchain platform that allows the traceability of its raw materials.
During the Execution exhibitions in Rio, I was able to see that entrepreneurs are capable of changing their reality and shaping their environment. In the book Shaping Entrepreneurship Research, Sarasvathy and their co-editorsThey recognize that entrepreneurs are capable of forging new worlds. In the stories that I described in this post, we can observe this. Regardless of the starting point, the type of venture, or the context from which they emerged, the entrepreneurs of Carteiro Amigo, and the entrepreneurs Inmunotera, Saboaria Rondonia, Syntalgae and Amazonia Smart Food are forging worlds and changing their environment.
Finally, these ventures also provide an answer to the question Are entrepreneurs born or made? Most of these entrepreneurs did not intend to start a business, however their circumstances motivated them to start a business. Throughout their experiences, learning and challenges, they became entrepreneurs. And to the extent that they transform, they also transform their realities, their worlds.
In short, Making in Rio has been an inspiring and learning experience. I hope these lines transmit part of the lived