Brazilian Psychologist Agnes Vasconcelos already had the highest degree of knowledge when it comes to social development. An enthusiast, she spent her life doing research on the main sources of wealth and life, captured with sensitivity by Brazilian rural artists and producers.
Now, she has decided to turn that old passion into an economic activity. Last Monday, August 18, the therapist-businesswoman inaugurated in the city of São Paulo a company for exporting and reselling handicraft produced in all of Brazil.
The items, made from fruit peel, leaves, seeds, cane bagasse and other natural raw materials, are manufactured by artisan groups from the most diverse communities, such as riverbank dwellers, native Indians and immigrants.
The production includes lighting fixtures, biojewelry, musical instruments, ornaments and household utensils. "This is our invitation for foreigners to appreciate the products and take home a small piece of Brazil, its beauty, its culture, its soul," says the businesswoman.
The flagship of company BR Comex, Importação, Exportação e Representação Comercial Ltda. is a project named Native Brazil, which aims to devise new products and alternatives in market insertion and to disclose and commercialize fine Brazilian artwork, and the best products in organic and family farming.
The innovative idea arose last year, when Agnes decided to give life to her much-dreamt-of project. She sought the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae), took several courses and training programs, and started studying the market.
"I felt that it was my moment, so I gathered the courage to do it. Without the necessary knowledge, however, I would have failed right off the bat," she explains. So she backed off and began to analyze the market, especially in the area of handicraft.
The next step would be to find the ideal suppliers for her project. That was when the businesswoman and her partner enrolled in the Sebrae Business Exchange ("Bolsa de Negócios") Website. Through the portal, turned to supply and demand of products and services, Agnes made over 200 contacts throughout the country. According to Agnes, more than 80% of her current partnerships arose from her enrolling in the Exchange.
"After enrolling my company, the original concept of my products underwent a total change. The partners I met by means of the Exchange, artisans with touching stories, were crucial to the process of putting together my product portfolio," she claims.
The partnerships crossed state borders and now, together, they create handmade ecological items in many different regions of the country. Agnes' company covers the freight cost, the artisans submit prototypes for her to define the finishing and then the pieces are ready to be included in the catalogue.
Presently, collaborating producers include artists from the state of Alagoas, with handicraft in coconut chips and fibers, from Amazonas, with bowls, from Mato Grosso, with seeds, from Minas Gerais, with gold, from the Federal District, with leaves from the Savannah, from Paraná, with fibers, and from São Paulo, with art in sugarcane bagasse.
Besides, also participating in the process are the delicious almonds from the state of Ceará, Brazil nuts from Mato Grosso do Sul, and cachaça (cane spirit) from the state of São Paulo.
In order to offer gifts to foreign visitors, the company selected a small collection of souvenirs, named Ecobrindes ("Ecogifts"). The products result from the interaction between two or more regions and styles of handicraft, which bear the logo or the symbols of the groups that manufacture them.
All of the company's items include special packages, labels containing information on the raw material used and directions concerning product handling, an explanatory leaflet of the place of origin and cultural aspects in Portuguese, English and Spanish, a report in accordance with the regulations of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) and organic product certificates.
"This effort fuses together social inclusion, environmental preservation and sustainability. It is a way of combining different interests and integrating technical mastery, creativity, knowledge, and entrepreneurship," says Agnes.
The Business Exchange was launched in 2007 and already counts on over 6,500 registered micro and small businesses from all over Brazil. There are companies of the most varied segments, represented by natural persons, associations, artisans or businessmen. Through the site, users can seek or offer products and services, free of charge, and make contacts with new suppliers or potential buyers.
BR Comex Ltda.
Tel: (11) 2973-4378 e
Bolsa de Negócios (Business Exchange)