Acriapa Cooperative

Acriapa Cooperative: Honey from the woods: social business for development and nature conservation

Antonina, BrazilGuaraqueçaba, Brazil
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The project results from a local community group of stingless beekeepers that in 2005 have decided to work together. The initiative has been transformed in a cooperative that is one of the most innovative projects protecting native bee populations, improving livelihoods and empowering local people.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if the social business can break all the barriers, providing a high quality product, income generation, self-confidence and empowerment to local communities, working as a powerful initiative to protect wildlife?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The project seeks to overcome the status as a demonstrative initiative for income generation to a social business status with financial sustainability and independent management. Overall it is essential to overcome government bureaucracy for small businesses. The project also faces the lack of legal support that sometimes results in small businesses unable to grow, resulting in frustration and disappointment for small communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Over the last two years the cooperative of stingless beekeepers has overcome the construction barriers and the regulations related to its processing unit as well as all the permissions to operate. The cooperative also got the Inspection Stamp from the Paraná State and now the goal is to get focused on increasing productivity and selling the products and gaining scale. In 2015 the group of stingless beekeepers has elaborated its business plan so the group can now consolidate its initiative as a social business coupled with conservation in one the most important regions for biodiversity in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest, the Guaraqueçaba EPA.

Awards

2013 Ecology Expression Award, category Wildlife Conservation. http://www.oifuturo.org.br/uploads/releases/of_mel_na_mata.pdf; In 2012 the Cooperative attended the biggest Fair Trade event in Italy (IX Feira Fa La Cosa Giusta! – Milan)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The increase in the scale of honey production and a coexisting increase in the market demand will give the business security and financial sustainability. In addition this will raise the motivation of the beekeepers thereby strengthening the group. Other beekeepers who today are not in the cooperative might be stimulated to adhere to the initiative. Influential chefs and workers in gastronomy are becoming more familiar with the cooperative’s products and are requesting more supplies for their experimental gastronomy. Because it is based on eco-friendly production, organic stores are selling the products. Beyond businesses reasons, the region needs strong projects capable of proving that it is possible to get development through locals.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Under the leadership of Sueli Alves dos Santos, a local community resident, the first stingless beekeepers’ cooperative achieved success in commercializing its products and constructed a Processing Unit able to process 1,000 kg of honey per lot. It also has created a guide for the production processes including scientific knowledge about stingless bees, nature conservation and certification rules. Also, the honey chemical analysis provides more information about the stingless bees products. Since the Cooperative obtained the Inspection Stamp in 2014, the first large sale was made in a gastronomy event. The project recommends about 20 beehive boxes per beekeepers, totalizing maximum 0,500 Kg/unit, respecting nature. The business plan has been made to launch greater scale, so, in the future the social business will be able to stimulate local development based on sustainability

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The main strategy is to implement the Cooperative Business Plan. For that it is necessary to increase honey production, which will require that the Processing Unit works in its maximum capacity. Also, more beehives boxes are needed (at least 50 extra for each stingless beekeeper); moreover is still necessary to raise the number of stingless beekeeper integrated in to the Cooperative from 23 to 50. From that, will be possible to keep the current supply chain and increase business. Those strategies will ensure that the cooperative can achieve financial sustainability.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

In the next two years is required to reach the main goals of the Business Plan, which increases in 150% the number of the beehives boxes, resulting in a production of 575 Kg per year, occasioning US$ 35,000 annual income. Nowadays the honey is selling for US$61 per Kg. This strategy will cover the productions cost, plus, will result in US$ 425 income/year/ beekeeper; also, is going to be possible save US$ 2,875 per year as financial fund per year

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The municipality named Boa Vista de Ramos (Amazon State, North of Brazil) is facing the same challenges of the Cooperative; both experiences got the Inspection Stamp from its States, which allow the cooperatives selling their products inside their own states. But, they cannot sell their products nationally. We believe that the Amazon experience partnered to the Cooperative will strengthen the initiative in order to get the National Inspection Stamp, which will allow both initiatives to sell the honey nationally and also to export it.
Team

Founding Story

From our work in a non-profit organization whose goals address nature conservation in one of the most important regions of the Atlantic Rainforest; also, being part of local communities on that region and challenging its basic needs, the “Aha” moment was born naturally, from the experience. The honey production on the region is a traditional practice, but, the locals have never had the experience working together, so, what we did was to challenge some locals to get together. Plus, the NGO and I fund raised money to establish the activities as a social business.

Team

We are a community-based group, so, our structure is supported by a small group of people. We are 23 members guided by an internal guide that conducts our decisions. I am a founder partner, former president and nowadays I work as a manager of the operations. I am supported for more two members of the Board. We have support from an accountability external service and also the support of the Wildlife Research and Environmental Education Society.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Clóvis Borges, Fellow of Ashoka of Brazil since 1989 and CEO OF the Wildlife Research and Environmental Education Societiety

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

I am a founder partner, former president and my main role is to manage the operations of the Cooperative of Beekeepers.

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

No Poverty, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I was hired for SPVS when I had a low level of education, but, because I had the opportunity, I kept studying to get a better education. My achievements at SPVS made me feel stronger, but the opportunity to found with some co-workers the beekeepers Cooperative was the first step to transform me in a social entrepreneur. Nowadays I am proud of to be part of a leadership group determined to implement appropriate solutions to face poverty and also to protect nature in the Guaraqueçaba EPA.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The Beekeepers Cooperative has two more members of the Board that represent the whole group and that share with me the business responsibilities. Besides that, since the beginning of the project (ten years ago), the SPVS (Wildlife Research and Environmental Education Society) has supported the project through fund raising, but mainly, empowering us in order to give the hope that we are capable to be successful managing our own social business.