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An Intelligent Enterprise in the Amazon Rainforest? No Problem

Deep in the Amazon Rainforest, 500 miles from the nearest city, villagers pick and process murumuru seeds to get natural butter which is used in a wide array of health and beauty products. Without any Internet, or even regular electricity, SAP partner Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS) and five students are helping to manage the business — and make the intelligent enterprise in one of the most remote parts of the world possible.

So, what is an intelligent enterprise? Diane Fanelli, senior vice president and general manager of Global Platform Channels at SAP, wrote recently: “These new organizations leverage intelligent technologies like automation to reduce repetitive tasks and free employees to do more meaningful work. It delivers a best-in-class experience for customers by anticipating and proactively responding to their needs. And it can create new business models and revenue streams by monetizing data-driven capabilities and applying its core competencies in new ways.” This applies even in the Amazon.

The community-based enterprise in the region of Middle-Juruá river, is served by the Sustainable Amazonas Foundation Business Incubator, which operates in the production and processing of andiroba and murumuru oils, at the Uacari Sustainable Development Reserve (SDR), an area 8,5 times bigger then the city of New York.

Last year, the EBC Bauana initiative collected the butter from 30 producing families to produce nearly 1.5 tons of murumuru butter and formalize a contract with a large cosmetic company. Started by students Vagner Menezes and Mailson Gondim, EBC Bauana has worked closely with FAS, which has helped the initiative implement SAP Business One and SAP Lumira to manage the operation.

“This venture is essential to keep initiatives of riverine entrepreneurs in communities of sustainable development reserves, promoting income generation while keeping the forest standing”, said Virgilio Viana, CEO of FAS.

No Electricity? No Problem

It’s an unusual implementation of SAP Business One, to say the least. There’s no Internet in the jungle, so the students have an offline version installed. To transfer data, they export to an external drive and transport it to the FAS facility in Manaus to analyze the data.

“We provide advice and mentoring for innovative solutions. The whole process of starting with SAP Business One was a very good learning opportunity for them. We didn’t just talk to them about technology, but about management as well,” said Virgilio. “We helped them organize their business, not in the way they work but how they manage it.”

SAP Business One helped the students track production and learn how much it costs to produce the murumuru-based substance. Power comes from generators, which requires gas to run to press the seeds and extract the oil.

“You have to learn how to balance the fuel with how much they gather from production,” said Wildney Mourão, coordinator of sustainable entrepreneurship of FAS. “Now, they can view data points on a dashboard and know how much they’re spending, how much they’ll get for the oil and how they can run the business better. That’s the support SAP Business One provides.”

FAS runs projects with 580 communities throughout the Amazon, all of them generating a lot of data. The partner leverages SAP Lumira to help manage them all.

“Previously, all this data was spread out in different sources, which meant we couldn’t see what was going on and therefore, wasn’t very beneficial. With SAP Lumira, we have a better view of our work which allows us to make better decisions. Now we can start seeing where we can make improvements,” Irnaldo said.

The ultimate success is not just how much income the murumuru businesses can generate, but also by the education and healthcare initiatives that the business can bring, Ballesteros said. “For a bit of context, each community has 100 to 200 families. Families share one laptop and management is handled through Wagner Menezes and Gondim.  We’ve seen a sustainable, productive change to complement the fishing and other activities that each community has.”

There’s more to come, according to FAS. Other communities produce cocoa or other crops desperately in need of better business processes and management. “We have an incubator and we’re looking to mentor other businesses in the forest,” Wildney said.

“We’re working to manage the data for those businesses, so they can benefit from all of that information.  That’s what intelligent enterprises do.  We don’t just get a bunch of data.  We use the data to make informed decisions faster and with less risk.  Everyone benefits from that.”

Creating Opportunities to Follow Dreams

Business with purpose is important to FAS, which sees helping villagers deep in the Amazon as significant for the future of Brazil and not just a business opportunity, Virgilio said.

“It’s very hard to make something happen in the middle of the Amazon. Being an entrepreneur is difficult in any part of the world. In the Amazon, it’s even harder. Put yourself in their shoes, if you can’t see success, if you don’t have the tools to see what’s going on, it’s very hard,” Virgilio said.

FAS works closely with EBC Bauana to not only bring sustainable jobs, but to instill a sense of independence, success and hope, Virgilio said.

“Running a business there was not difficult because it was in the rainforest but because there was no business experience. Our role is to provide some management expertise and some technology. We’re making that happen,” he said. “We’re trying to enable these communities to succeed, and to be able to say ‘I can succeed where I live. I don’t need to migrate to a city.  I can follow my dreams in my community.’”


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