In Brazil, UNIDO partners with non-profit to support small companies during pandemic
17 June 2020 Raphael Makarenko
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.
Alessandro Amadio, UNIDO’s representative for Brazil, as well as Venezuela, says that the platform helps entrepreneurs overcome the disruption of the local supply chains provoked by the pandemic.
“The rise of short supply chains, relying on local producers of goods and suppliers of services, emerged as an effective mitigation measure. But, regrettably, many small businesses were not equipped to face this new market and the habits of these new clients,” says Amadio. “The platform created by Ajude o Pequeno is doing exactly this, linking demand and supply in a new business environment made of short supply chains, with a great benefit for small and micro enterprises.”
The online platform was designed as an online store and includes the entire sales process. The website displays the goods that are available for purchase and offers operational support for the delivery of the merchandize to the final consumer through a national delivery network.
The platform also offers video lessons on online sales, finance, digital marketing, delivery systems and other strategic topics for small businesses. Entrepreneurs also have at their disposal a virtual assistant who answers questions about the platform to help those who have never had any contact with virtual stores. In addition, the entire content of the platform can be translated into sign language by another virtual assistant provided by the website.
The Ajude o Pequeno non-governmental organization has already gathered more than 200 volunteers to support the platform. “We want to help the small producer, the small business owner, the local merchant, to take their products to the final consumer through digital platforms,” explains Wesley Barbosa, creator of the NGO.
Access Ajude o Pequeno here.