“We are honored to have reached the $1 million milestone and will continue our commitment to making a difference for açai growers and improving their communities,” said Jeremy Black, SAMBAZON’s co-founder. “From supporting education, healthcare, and community projects, our investments are making a difference in the lives of thousands of açaí family farmers.”
SAMBAZON is an acronym that stands for ‘SustAinable Management of the Brazilian AmaZON’...and we mean every bit of it.
The $1 Million Milestone
To date, SAMBAZON has has provided $1 million USD in support for Açai grower communities in the Amazon Rainforest. Funds provided via self-sponsored and EcoCert Fair for Life’s “Fair Trade Fund” have supported several projects, contributing to rural and urban efforts, including education, healthcare, infrastructure, and other community building projects, as well as training and assistance on the best practices of Açaí harvesting.
In line with SAMBAZON’s triple bottom line business philosophy, measuring social success includes giving back to Açai growers and their communities. SAMBAZON’s contributions have built and renovated schools that service the local communities where the Açaí is harvested, have built and helped remodel healthcare centers, improving access to basic education and health services.
How are Fair Trade Projects selected?
Every year, a percentage of SAMBAZON’s base fruit cost is reinvested back into the local community through projects and opportunities. SAMBAZON does not tell the people what to use their funds for but works with them to ensure what projects they identify are executed efficiently and sustainably. We must demonstrate at our annual audit how we determined what projects to fund, how the funds were managed, and how we are ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the projects.
SAMBAZON has a vast number of wild harvest collectors that are not necessarily or often organized into community groups. To apply our fair-trade fund most equitably we follow certain processes to help select who is to be the recipient. We find the use of a "lump sum" project is more impactful than many tiny ones spread out. In addition, the communities are generally isolated in the Amazon Rainforest with very different levels of organization, community needs, and internal project management abilities. Despite these difficulties, over the many years that SAMBAZON has been part of the FFL program, we have supported many impactful projects in these communities that have greatly improved their quality of life. Our injections of a large sum of money and technical expertise to complete these projects is something most communities could not have done on their own.
What is the objective of these Fair Trade projects?
The general objective of our Fair Trade projects is to improve livelihoods through access to basic education, access to basic health services, improved quality of life, and prioritize small collectors and their organizations. Our intention is to provide the funds and resources to accomplish the goals that the community desires to accomplish, while making sure they are able to build and maintain the projects themselves once they are completed. Our SAMBAZON projects are based on the following specific objectives:
1. Improve schools, learning, and access to basic education
2. Improve access to basic health services
3. Promote healthy habits, through access to sports and leisure
4. Support small-scale collectors and their organizations by contributing to the increased volume of Açaí supplied within Fair for Life's environmental, social, and operational standards
A few examples of SAMBAZON's local initiatives to date, that include both our Fair Trade projects and SAMBAZON funded projects, include:
SAMBAZON provides training and assistance for the best practices for Açaí harvesting. We have created an upward cycle of sustainable development in the local community. By offering yearly training courses and sharing best practices in Açaí growth, harvesting, agribusiness and management, locals are empowered to take control of their economic future by using renewable resources to make a living while simultaneously protecting the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest. The farmers we work with understand the importance of protecting the land and we do our best to support and ensure that they have the resources they need to do that.
SAMBAZON has built or helped remodel many health care or nursing centers. Casa de Hospitalidade is a Catholic initiative that services over 400 orphaned children or children whose parents are unable to take care of them. SAMBAZON provides technical support on the maintenance of the installations. Below are a few detailed highlights:
- Creche Igarape de Fortaleza is a daycare center nearby SAMBAZON's plant. SAMBAZON supports this center by donating office equipment and general services. Some SAMBAZON employees have their children at this daycare while they work. The center services over 300 local children.
- Creche Lilia Miotto is a daycare located in a less developed area of the city of Santana. SAMBAZON supports them by donating construction material for the building of additional rooms they need to complete the center. The institution services over 200 children.
SAMBAZON has helped build and renovate several schools that service the local communities where Açaí is harvested. To help reduce dropout rates, SAMBAZON started “Pontes Pará O Futuro”, in the city of Santana where our first factory is located, at Igarapé da Fortaleza, 1500 high school students now have an Art Department with classes that will stimulate the children’s creativity and motivate them to showcase their creations.
In 2018, our Fair for Life Fund selected the community of Açaituba in the municipality of Chaves/PA to be the recipient of an Early Childhood School Project. The justification for the request was based on the lack of these schools in the area, and the community representatives managed the construction and legal demands of the project, as well as supporting the long-term management of maintaining this school with staff and upkeep. This project serves the community with around 110 children and ensures the community has a long-term place for early childhood education in their local community.
We are strong advocates of education. Education gives us a knowledge of the world around us and drives us to change it into something better. In certain areas of Brazil, children can only attend school by a potentially long boat ride, many of them stay home instead. Our schools are located in areas that are close to the communities we harvest from, allowing for easier access to education for children that might not otherwise have an opportunity to attend school. We’ve given financial support and helped to construct or reform several schools, ultimately serving more than 800 families and 1,000 children.
Water & Sanitation Projects
SAMBAZON has funded water and sanitation projects that contribute to the betterment of local communities as well as the biodiversity of the Amazon.
We’ve provided mechanical water filtration systems to our river communities, ensuring they have access to filtered and safe drinking water. Speaking of water, all the water SAMBAZON uses in our factories is filtered multiple times using state of the art equipment and is subsequently used in the washing, preparation and processing of the Açaí fruit. The wastewater produced is later collected and processed through another filter system. This helps to keep the clean environment...and, we can even use the sediment removed from the water as a fertilizer to grow different types of seedlings that we can then donate to local Açaí harvesters!
Our infrastructure projects include the construction of several buildings from the Capuchin medical center, to the IMENA library and several schools. We've also completed the construction of two sports and leisure centers in Álvaro Lacerda and Massarapó, Brazil as a part of our Fair For Life projects.
Our 2017 Fair for Life project was focused on the community of Serraria Pequena, who requested the construction of a multi-sports court based on the lack of an area for sports and leisure in their wet and marshy environment. This project serves the school community with around 600 children.
The Massarapó Multisport Court Project was our 2019 Fair for Life Initiative, in which city hall representatives suggested the construction of a square with gym equipment, toys for children, and a sports court to improve the community's quality of life. This project serves the community with around 123 families.
How YOU Can Help
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog post, we want to thank you for your interest in learning more about what SAMBAZON has been able to accomplish with our Fair Trade Certification. These projects would not be possible without you and your support! You help protect the Amazon, support our sustainable harvesting practices AND give back to the family farmers we work with...every single time you purchase SAMBAZON Açaí. Our pledge, your impact.
SAMBAZON will continue to support projects that the harvesting communities identify as necessary to enhance their lives, including the building of schools and health centers, providing water and sanitation, supporting infrastructure projects, and other community projects.
You can continue to support projects like these by voting with your dollar. As a consumer, you have the power to look beyond the label and know more about the businesses you support and where your dollar goes. Our film Seeding Change is a great place to start your journey into helping save the world, one purchase at a time. We encourage you to continue being a conscious consumer and support triple-bottom-line, sustainable businesses like SAMBAZON. Because together, we can pave the way for a better, more sustainable world!