Instituto Verde: Creating social entrepreneurs in poor communities

Por-do-Sol em Palmeiras

In Glória do Goitá we also met Vicente Roque one of the founders of the Instituto Verde (IV), a non-profit organization. Vicente, Carolina Magalhães (the current president of the institute) and Graça, an architect and member of the institute, showed us one of the projects the institute is supporting, an association of women who got together in search for a better future.

The Association of Female Rural Entrepreneurs of Palmeiras, exists for almost one year (it was created on July 28, 2009) and currently works on three fronts: a) production of crafts, b) cultivation of organic produce, and c) decoration with wild roses. With the help of Instituto Verde, the women are building up a bakery for their community.

The first big challenge of the association was to constitute itself as a legal person and to ensure that they would have a place to work. The next step is to turn the house into a functioning office and workspace, and to define the products that will be prioritized and the goals the women want to reach.

Sede da Associacao

We talked to Joselaine, the president of the association, with Dona Anita, the treasurer and with Suzanne, the secretary. They all agreed that in this first year of work the biggest challenge was to organize themselves and the main lesson was that 1+1 is more than two. By working together, they learned from each other, and increased production of their products and the impact the services can bring to the community of Palmeiras.

The Instituto Verde was instrumental in the creation and organization of the association. With the help of its juridical and technical assistance it was possible to register the association in such short time. Moreover, the juridical assistance the institute continues to offer helps the association to use the Law in the favor of those who usually do not have access to justice. This way the members are less vulnerable to fights in local politics.

Currently, the IV continues to support the work of these women and is an important connecting element between the women of Palmeiras and the rest of the world. The community of Palmeiras is very isolated. There is only one public telephone, and very few transport options to get to the nearby urban centers, Glória do Goitá and Vitória do Sant Antão.

Membros da Associacao

To reduce this isolation, the IV enables the association members to take part in courses and brings them information in form of books and reports. For example, the IV made it possible for 3 association members to participate in a 40-day bakery course in Recife, as a basis for the bakery of the association.

The next step is to turn the association economically independent and to also inspire entrepreneurship in the other inhabitant of the community. Our talk with the women and the group from the IV gave us even more certainty that wit a little bit of will and energy one can mobilize the local human capital and improve the well-being for all in any community, even the remotest and poorest ones.

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