ITAIPU Binational, the Paraguay Biodiversity Program, the World Bank and the Tropical Forest Alliance organized the first green business forum.
Held Oct. 23-25 in Asunción, Paraguay, the forum focused on sharing green business opportunities and experiences of companies that have created products that are profitable and support green efforts to protect the environment.
Nelixia, a Swiss-based company supplying essential oils to perfume companies, was one of the businesses that shared a story.
Jean-Marie Maizener, Nelixia CEO, mentioned that consumers from North America and Europe want transparency by knowing where the products they are buying originate.
One ingredient, cardamon, is harvested by indigenous communities that promote sustainable planting in the forest. Farmers use their own ovens to dry the seeds so they don't rely on middlemen. Cardamom producers have gained a 30 percent increase in their income by managing the production process.
“My clients are telling me they want more of what we have to sell,” Maizener said. “They're brands that are dedicated to sustainable development [and] are the best performers ... and are growing in the double digits, while the growth of their traditional brands is stagnant. And I don’t think it’s just a trend. I really believe that in the future, it will be the way to do business,” Maizener said.
However, there are some challenges companies involved in the green business face despite an increase in awareness and demand for their products.
Ana Karina Quintero, coordinator of Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development Office, said that quality and quantity are two of the biggest challenges.
“In Colombia, we have focused more on small entrepreneurs in local markets,” she said, “so that they can improve quality and quantity, which is where most of the problems and failures are. We are developing a strategy of intervention in which we identify [the entrepreneurs], do a verification of their economic and social sustainability, and based on that verification, we help them.”
Additionally, gaining market share and diversifying sales is another major issue for producers, Quintero said. “We are now innovating in a theme we call territorial markets, setting up business round tables within the regions themselves to incentivize not only local buying but buying among themselves. So they can buy supplies like packaging and raw materials from each other and become more sustainable.”
The country “needs to incentivize green business and identify opportunities,” said Cristina Goralewski, president of Paraguay’s National Forestry Institute. “We have to transform the economy toward sustainable production.”
“We want to support interested farmers to reach national and international markets,” José Alderete, director of ITAIPU Binational in Paraguay, stated, “and to connect all with the best international practices for protecting the environment.”