This is discussion about Solidarium Fair Trade - Brazil.
Good evening, Tiago.
It looks like you have a very well-thought-through approach here with Solidarium!
Thank you very much for your comments!
Here is our answers for your questions. Hope we can clarify some points:
Innovation New Contribution: How do other fair trade groups operate, differently from Solidarium?
> Basically, other FT organizations works with their own market channels, specially in Brazil. These models are usually hard to scale up and we know that because we started with our own store in a Shopping Mall in Brazil.
Our main difference is related to our business model and structure. We're based in 3 main pillars, where we integrate a network of (1) Design Partners, (2) Local Producers and (3) Major Retailers.
Social Impact: Why should we consider this a “social enterprise” and not just a regular business? I don’t see the connection between a more labor-intensive road-building model and systemic change in the labor market.
> In Brazil we have more than 2 million local producers (people) living with less than $2,00 a day. Our mission is to get these people out of poverty by providing unrivaled market channels. We've been working with 1600 local producers who within 2 years working with Solidarium are increasing their income by 80%, which is a huge impact on their lives.
We only work with Cooperatives, Associations and Communitie Groups with the idea to not only generate income but also to develop their community as well.
Evolution: It seems you’re focusing very closely on a few key buyers. What happens if those relationships change?
> We realize that working with major retailers is a good way to scale up our business and impact, but the negotiations take too long. So what we're doing wright now is to set up a sales network with people in field selling our products for small and medium retailers as well. The idea here is to become less dependent on this major retailers and to dilute the risk with this fast sales made for the small and medium retailers.
Sustainability Barriers: How does your product pricing compare with non-fair-trade products? Why would vendors buy your product when Brazilians “still don’t know what Fair Trade is”?
> We don't believe that FT products should have a premium price. Our products are usually competitive with other products. As our chain is more expensive, we add perceived value with these design partnerships. Our focus is to sell products that are useful, has a great perceived value, a competitive price and a great design. We don't want our customers buying our products because it is socially responsible or because they wanna help our producers. That would be charity and would not be sustainable. The fact that "brazilian customers still don't know what FT is" it is a solvable problem and is one of our focus on the customer side.
What are you doing, in detail, to solidify the management challenges?
> Raising investment to bring people with market experience. Inviting advisors to be part of our Board. Bringing professional investors to professionalize our management tools and reports. Talking with many mentors here at the Unreasonable Institute to discover what are our real gaps.
Since domestic sales seem to dominate your current strategy, is an Internet-focused growth strategy appropriate?
> We believe that an internet-based strategy is appropriate to include even more producers. But it cannot be the main or the only sales strategy due the fact that the e-commerce market in Brazil is still small, specially for our products. Anyway, it is growing with a 2-digit rate every year, so it is important for us to be part of this "movement" since now.
If your model is solid enough to expand to other countries, then why are you engaging with Unreasonable Institute and Ashoka? It seems you can grow and scale under your own steam, now!
> Our model is not solid enough to expand naturally to other countries. We're engaging to Unreasonable Institute and Ashoka because we believe in the power of networks, sharing ideas and to collaborate with other social business. We're now raising investment to structure these 4 main areas:
1) Develop a Crowd Sourcing Design Tool to become less dependent on our current design partners;
2) Set up a sales network in Brazil and in the US to expand our sales;
3) Develop an Online Marketplace to include even more local producers in the market;
4) Bring people with market experience to build a solid team in Production and Commercial area.
Challenges: How do you address the “lack of skills/training”?
> We're now partnerring with local NGO's to qualify the local producers we've been working with.
Well, i think that's it! Thank you again for the questions! I hope I was clear.
If you have any other questions, please fell free to write me again.
Looks like a good model. If I wondered if, after some time working with you, many of your participants were interested in setting up as entrepreneurs themselves and whether / how you encouraged this? Best wishes
Thank you for your comments!
Well, all of the local producers we've been working with are working as independents business from Solidarium. The're usually formed as Cooperatives, Associations or even Community Groups (still informal) and we do not have and exclusive agreement with them. We actually present them to many other potential buyers for them to become independent.
Hope your project wins! I am trying to something similar in Nicaragua. I knowhow tuff it can be to change the system. Maybe one day we can collaborate. THe poverty is terrible in Nicaragua, we are the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere behind Haiti but just like Brazil we are blessed with natural resources and hard-working people. We just need some changemakers.
Hope your project wins! I am trying to do something similar in Nicaragua. I knowhow tuff it can be to change the system. Maybe one day we can collaborate. THe poverty is terrible in Nicaragua, we are the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere behind Haiti but just like Brazil we are blessed with natural resources and hard-working people. We just need some changemakers.
Go Solidarium! Can't wait to see you guys taking this model and spreading it across Brazil. You've got my 200% support!
Tiago is one of the most determined, relentless, and caring entrepreneurs I've ever had the privilege of knowing. You and your team are going to take this tot he stars my friend!
It's simple: just watch Solidarium change the world. This is more than "economic opportunity." This is absolute brilliance.
Enjoy the show.
If someone can get local producers out of poverty by improving their livelihoods is Tiago. I am positive he will become not only an Ashoka changemaker, but a WORLD Changemaker! Keep working hard/playing hard. Best of luck my friend.
Dear Tiago, I have just arrived in Uganda and I am so tired but because I believe in you so much, I had to vote for you when I can still access the internet. People out there, I had an opportunity to spend six weeks with Tiago. His passion, dedication convinced me that he will indeed lift millions of poor people in Brazil out of poverty. He deserves every ones support. Go for it Tiago.
Congratulations! What would you do with the prize money if Soludarium won de challenge?
Abracao e boa sorte,
Thanks for your comment.
The prize will be invested in 3 main areas:
1) Increase our design network through an online crowdsourcing tool;
2) Improve our quality control system and increase our production capacity;
3) Set up a sales representative network to become less dependent on major retailers and star working with medium and small retailers as well.
Conheci a Aliança Empreendedora em uma palestra na faculdade. Me apaixonei pelo trabalho da ONG, principalmente pela Solidarium, que tem uma proposta muito interessante, que ajuda muitas pessoas a melhorarem sua qualidade de vida com dignidade e trabalho. É mais do que doar, é proporcionar que cada pessoa tenha seu direito de expressão e realize trabalhos que lhe deem prazer e em troca, seu merecido retorno. parabéns, fico feliz em poder votar no Solidarium e contribuir para que eles cresçam cada vez mais e ajudem mais e mais pessoas por um mundo melhor!
Vamos construir um Brasil melhor juntos!
You are so inspiring! Congrats of making it this far, and can't wait to see where you go!
Tiago eu estou torcendo por vocês!! Um Abração
Mais um torcendo por voces !!!!!!!!!!!!!