Derek Newberry

Rising Ventures: Florestas – An Authentically Brazilian Company With an Authentically Green Image

New Ventures Intern Jesse Last muses on pub trivia and a conversation with one of the most innovative entrepreneurs in the personal care products market.

I got an interesting pub trivia question the other night – what is the body’s largest organ? I promptly shouted “liver” and repeatedly pounded my fist on the bar until my teammates relented. Needless to say, I was wrong (it’s number two). The body’s largest organ is the skin. Fact check me, and play a terribly enthralling round of “The Organ Game” courtesy of the British while you’re at it.I will spare you the rest of my pub trivia night to get to the point – skin and taking care of it in a socially responsible way. Last week I spoke with one of WRI New-Venture’s most promising entrepreneurs – Fernando Lima. Fernando is the founder of Florestas, a company specializing in personal care products derived from Amazonian plants, nuts and berries. All cosmetic companies want to claim these exotic ingredients and will flash pretty pictures to make you a believer. Unfortunately, we’ve seen the consequences of multi-national corporate greenwashing on the rainforests before.

Fernando’s commitment, on the other hand, is personal. Asked about sustainability, Fernando explained the connections between environmental degradation, poverty and exploitation in Brazil. He described how he purchases his ingredients from Amazonian cooperatives, providing incomes and reducing the need of indigenous people to cut down the rainforests in order to survive. In essence, triple-bottom line theory to me amounts to preserving Brazil’s cultural and environmental integrity for Fernando.

Having retailed IKOVE in Brazil, Europe and the U.S., Florestas is looking to raise $2 million to open two Wellness Center and Spas, one in New York and the other in S?o Paulo. I’ve never been to a spa before, but with Fernando’s success maybe I’ll be able to write it off as a research expense…

The full profile of Florestas is available here.