Conservation Entrepreneurship/Community Projects

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Review and discussion of case studies from Anderson and Clay, Greening the Amazon

Community Project Case Studies[edit | edit source]

The Body Shop

Summarizer: Brian

Discussants: Mira, Emiliano

Vegetal Leather

Summarizer: Emiliano

Discussants: Ryan, Mira

Xapuri Agroextractive Cooperative

Summarizer: Mira

Discussants: Tim, Brian


Summarizer: Tim

Discussants: Ryan, Brian

Precious Woods

Summarizer: Ryan

Discussants: Tim, Emiliano

Guiding Questions[edit | edit source]

1.) The institutions / stakeholders involved: who are they, what are their views/interests/goals, and how do these align?

2.) How did the project start? Was there adequate planning? Clear expectations shared among the stakeholders?

3.) How good is the fit between the "intervention" (project, proposed solution) to the resources, skills and interests of the community who will carry it out?

4.) Accountability / responsiblity of different stakeholders, including executants and supporters (donors or others).

5.) Can you see an "exit strategy", i.e. a path for local takeover, exit by the supporters, and long-term viability?

Summaries[edit | edit source]

The Body Shop

In the early 1990s, The Body Shop met a Kayapo village leader at a rally for indigenous peoples of Brazil. The Kayapo had a history of concessions to miners and loggers, but those lucrative endeavors were on rapid decline, so the Kayapo were in need of a new profit-making scheme (since, by now, they were accustomed to some modern accomodations, such as televisions, clothing, etc.). The Body Shop’s owners were committed to social, economic and ecological sustainability, and as part of their business, were dedicated to working with people in need. So, they conducted research for several months to determine if there were products the Kayapo could harvest sustainably. A scientist commissioned to conduct the survey determined that Brazil nut was a viable product for the area. Attempting to capture maximum profits for the community, The Body Shop discovered that the Kayapo could get more money for Brazil nut oil rather than the unshelled nuts. The Body Shop, then, put US $80,000 investment into the first year of production, which included the manual press the Kayapo would need to extract the oil from the nuts. They continued to front money for operations, since production didn’t result in any profits. They even introduced other endeavors, such as bracelet making, largely for women. This project failed, and it is unsure that the Brazil nut oil will succeed.

Vegetal Leather

Xapuri Agroextractive Cooperative


PRONATUS is small business that sells natural personal care products in Manaus, Brazil. Unlike the other case studies, PRONATUS is privately owned. Originally started by two couples, the company was bought out by one of the founding couples two years later and has been maintained by the family ever since. Through careful planning (eight business plans in seven years), the company has never been in debt or had to borrow money. The case study follows the business from creation in 1987 until 1995 as it developed from a small, hand-manufactured industry into a larger company that combines mechanized manufacturing with increased relationships with producers of raw materials to decrease production costs by 33% in five years. These cost savings have not been kept as profit, however, but have been turned over to the consumers in reduced pricing in an effort to increase market share. This strategy appears to be effective as sales were increasing at the time of publication of the case study. Much of the success of the business appears to be from the skills and drive of the owner and CEO, Evandro Silva, who combined knowledge of local plants and their medicinal properties with good entrepreneurial sense and a passion for the business to create a company that was successful even during a recession in Brazil.

Because the company is privately owned and has not borrowed money or been in debt, there is little accountability to outside groups. One area where issues of accountability did arise was in keeping suppliers of raw materials accountable for producing a high quality, steadily shipped product. This was achieved by working with local farmers, appointing and paying one to supervise production, processing, and shipping for that area, as well as specifying greater quality controls. There is also an issue of accountability of the company to the consumer. At the end, the author mentions that the company recently introduced a second line of products that are not natural. Though there were concerns with how this would be perceived by customers who associated the brand with natural products, this had not been seen and sales appeared to be increasing.

As a private, locally owned company there was no apparent exit strategy. The owners likely do not want to turn over their business to others. The lack of donors and of debt as well as the past success of the company suggests that PRONATUS will be sustainable into the future. --Kifaro50 22:51, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Precious Woods
1.) Mil Madeireira is a timber company that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss-based company Precious Woods. Precious Woods has previously been involved in reforestation in Costa Rica before venturing into the Brazilian Amazon and sustainable wood harvesting. Their interest is to create a sustainable select harvest timber company that is certified and exports tropical hardwoods internationally. Their goal was to balance economic, environmental and social interests on the basis of sustainable development.

2.) In 1990 Swiss investors invested about US$1 million in reforestation programs in Costa Rica. Following this experience,Mil Madeireira was formed and by 1993 the company had purchased more than 3,000 hectares of degraded, steep areas on which it planted teak and bombicasi. In 1993 the company spent time researching and reviewing different areas that could be bought for timber production. They eventually found an adaquate track of land and were careful to pursue land ownership and the necesary paperwork. The company was also careful to conduct a two year feasibility study to determine the volume and species of trees on the land. The land also had a well maintained dirt road and a number of buildings, sawmill, and easy access exportation facilities on site.

3.) The business plan on paper sounded well planned and organized. However, from the start of the project there appeared to be a disconnect between the owners/ stakeholders interests/ goals and the hired work force. The workers that were hired were unskilled and had little invested in the grander vission of the company. From this review it appears that the local workers saw this more as a job for an income than a long term sustainable project. This relationship eventually had a profound impact on the running and maintainence of the company.

4.) The orginal plan of the business was well thoughout and organized. However after the first few years many of the roles and responsibilities changed hands and the company was left with management that was not present for the creation of the business plan. The communication was missing from the owners/ stakeholder and the work force on the ground that also resulted in many costly mistakes. This disconnect could have been avioded with better planning and organization.

5.) After reading this businenss profile I couldn't see a clear exit strategy. It appeared that the company came up against a number of difficult problems and decisions that had major consequences for business growth and prosperity. The business workers, while trained on the job, had little invested in the company and thus may lead to problems in the future. From this review it appears that the company completed ignored any possibilities in worker equity that may offer a future exit strategy.

The long term viability of this company is dependent on their ability to compete on the international market that is currently dominated by Northern timber companies. Precious Woods believed that their wood was not only of better quality but also cheaper. However, history has shown that tropical timber products are hard to introduce into world markets. Possible routes into the international market include partnering up with other companies, creating new products, or moving into less common markets such as Asia. Lynch 22:34, 24 February 2009 (UTC)