By Raphael Makarenko
Mariana Garcia Freire owns a small coffee business in a small town in São Paulo state, in the southeast of Brazil. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the country and emergency measures to contain the spreading of the virus started to affect local businesses, she decided to look for alternatives to reach her clients. Garcia Freire was one of the first small entrepreneurs to join a free online marketplace created by the Brazilian non-profit, Ajude o Pequeno. The virtual platform has been designed to provide micro and small businesses with a collaborative online environment that links producers, traders and consumers. Its main goal is to help entrepreneurs in this period of economic uncertainty.
“The platform helped me keep my business open, and expanded our commercial activities beyond my town,” says Garcia Freire. “The main advantage of this online marketplace is that it increases brand recognition beyond your immediate vicinity and helps us reach new clients.”
After three months of online platform engagement, Garcia Freire is now able to sell a hundred kilos of coffee every week and has even developed plans to sell other products. “I will upload an online profile for a new women’s clothing store at the platform soon,” she says.
A partnership between Ajude o Pequeno, owner of the platform, and the Field Office of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Brazil, started in May. UNIDO contributes to the initiative with institutional support and resources for its digital advertizing.
More than two thousand Brazilian companies have already registered on the free online marketplace.