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Rede Asta, Hall of Fame

Alice Freitas
Rede Asta
Rio de Janeiro & São Paulo, Brazil
www.redeasta.com.br

Developing a sustainable business model, which provides artisans with a market for their products and helps to economically empower women from some of Brazil’s poorest communities, is the focus of this outstanding social enterprise.

Aged 23, Alice Freitas embarked on a journey across five Asian countries to seek out successful small scale social initiatives. This resulted in Alice developing a burning desire to use business as the driving force for economic inclusion and social change, especially for disadvantaged groups.

Alice co-founded Asta in 2005, creating the first direct sales network of sustainable products in Brazil, most of which are made from recycled materials. Asta has successfully built an active and engaged network of producers, salespeople and consumers. The company enables small handicraft and textile cooperatives, mainly made up of women, to reach a larger market through inclusion in the Asta catalogue. The catalogue includes over a hundred exclusive products ranging from fashion accessories and tableware to homeware and natural cosmetics, and there are four collections each year. All of the products are ecologically sourced, are recyclable or made from recycled materials.

Fuelling the growing demand for socially-conscious products among Brazilian consumers, Asta’s network of over 700 salespeople generate direct door to door sales. Well trained, and with an excellent knowledge of the social issues that individual products are helping to alleviate, each agent is able to ensure that the customer is aware of how their purchase will deliver a positive social impact. Sales are also generated by the online catalogue, enabling the artisans to reach even larger markets.

Since the launch of Asta, the company has grown to work with about 50 producer groups, providing work for 700 craftswomen, and now generates over $290,000 worth of sales.

Asta’s business model is highly effective in contributing to its social aims. By avoiding the high costs associated with high-end fair trade stores, Alice is able to give 50% of sales revenue to the women producers, and the sales agents receive a 22% share.

Investing in the continued growth of the business, Alice has opened a showroom in São Paulo and has increased its sales force by 30% to service one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in Brazil. By 2015, Asta plans to: be working with 85 producer groups; have achieved a threefold increase in online sales; and, have expanded the business to other major cities.


 

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