Social entrepreneur Rosane Gama Sa (MBA) during the interview – Images by Kumar Subrahmanya Mankala
BY: Svetlana Vladyshevskaya andÂ Rodney Bosire in Gonzaga – SantosÂ Brazil, for Kenya-Today.com.
Social ventures and social investment is the new game in town, with a focus on actual business solutions for scaling social impact, itâ€™s very refreshing to many!
Many MBA graduates are no longer making applications to big companies for employment opportunities instead they want to partner to provide a service to them.
The emerging markets have generated interest from mature economies – Europe and North America. The desire to have a pie of the emerging markets is catching up with the young native graduates with desire to impact their communities.
Social entrepreneurs often struggle with the dilemma of how to finance their start ups. They are driven by a social mission, but traditional philanthropy doesn’t provide them with a stable, long term source of finance. At the same time, commercial investors keen on making profits are not giving them an opportunity.
In response to this dilemma, social entrepreneurs are starting to do what they do best â€“ inventing their own solutions that require little capital!. Take Rosane Gama Sa, for example who five months ago (July 2012) started Lâ€™amica Brasil, a Brazilian-based exporter, Rosane’s aspiration and those of her business partner, is to make it possible for talented craftspeople from Brazil, with no access to competitive markets to add value to their products and market their products, in a fair manner, beyond borders.
It is not easy for the community based craftsmen to access competitive markets mainly due to language barrier, lack of managerial skills, lack of financing for mass production to take advantage of economies of scale among other challenges synonymous with developing countries where a huge social gap between the rich and poor prevails.
The wish to start a business with a â€˜social faceâ€™ was something that had been on Rosane Gama Saâ€™s mind, for a long time. Having worked in Brazil and Europe for about ten years, she decided to pursue an MBA at Nyenrode Business Universiteit, in The Netherlands, in 2010, where she had the opportunity to write her thesis project based on the local fair trade importer, she also developed her own business plan.
Nyenrode Business University is ranked top 100 business schools worldwide, the alumnae are in great demand by Forbes top 500, one wonders why Rosane could not seize the opportunity and join a blue chip company;Â to this question, the soft spoken Rosane smiles and says
â€˜â€˜I have always had the wish to do something for the less disadvantaged from my home country. Not charity, but to enable them to make a living out of something they know how to do very well â€“ beautiful handicraft items. Then I thought why not to combine their talent with my business and life experience abroad to bridge potential foreign buyers with Brazilian artisans? The solution was clear to meâ€¦…the birth ofÂ Lâ€™amica Brasil!â€™â€™
Back in Brazil, together with Ofelia Maria S. Ferraz, a friend and psychologist with vast experience in educational coordination and social work, Rosane decided to combine the passion for fair trade and social projects to start Lâ€™amica Brasil.
The word Lâ€™amica, means â€˜friendâ€™ in Italian, the name was carefully crafted to suit the companyâ€™s business model. The business model is geared on preservation of indigenous cultures in Brazil through the production of handcraft and other art works; and on customersâ€™ solidarity towards artisans when buying environmentally friendly products, which are their main source of income
Lâ€™amica Brasil is not a non-profit organization, however, it aims to use part of its profits to finance projects aimed at developing further the communities from where its products are sourced. Knowing the difficulties faced by the business partners (artisans), the company wants to work closely with them and their communities; to improve their portfolio by providing services of a professional designer, improve their current production facilities, to fund the renovation of parts of a local school, hospital and also capacity building.
Lâ€™amica Brasil has selected partners who follow the principles of Fair Trade as this is core to its business. By doing so, artisans, their families and local communities can have a sustainable business hence promoting a dignified life. Lâ€™amica Brasil endevours to be officially Fair Trade certified company in short span of time.
Lâ€™amica Brasilâ€™s target the Western World basically retailers and wholesalers, both fair trade certified or not yet certified. Garment outlets wishing to include exclusive Brazilian handmade products into their portfolio, which are commercialized in a fair manner.
“We team with the expertise of bilingual Brazilians who have vast experience abroad and a good level of English. Deliveries are done by aerial cargo or sea freight to our clients abroad” adds Rosane
Five months into the business and Rosane thinks the decision not to pursue a job at a Forbes top 500 company in Amsterdam, the Netherlands was the best. She has managed to nail good orders to supply to customers in Europe and the USA. Her biggest contact were facilitated by her classmates at Nyenrode Business School and the alumnae network.
“We are at ground zero of the supply chain, we are giving the craftspeople the best price for their effort and in return we are able to give our customers the best quality of the Brazilian crafts; the entire supply chain is happy” adds Rosane.
Now, that is a great idea with big impact on the local communities! with such ventures the trickle down effect of the economic growth in the emerging markets will be realized soon; thereby accelerating an improved livelihood of the communities.
To know more about this venture, check out Lâ€™amica Brasil website at: www.lamicabrasil.com
Rodney Bosire (Bsc, MBA) is a sustainability expert and a regular business contributor.