The Vencer Juntos business model rests on six strategic pillars:
• Promotion of clusters of 100 or more micro businesses in selected regions of the interior of Brazil
• Recruitment and training of community business advisors (CBAs) who provide advisory, marketing and contracting services to the micro businesses
• Creation of a Local Investment Fund in each cluster with the principal payments on the start-up loans to the entrepreneurs. The Fund finances new micro-businesses and makes the project sustainable.
• Formation of a marketing cooperative or association in each cluster to provide purchasing, marketing and sales support to affiliated micro businesses and take over the self management of the Local Investment Fund
• Building of strategic partnerships with business, NGOs, government and academia in support of the micro businesses and of larger local development initiatives and
• Development of a standardized web-based consulting and training tool kit and community outreach methodology that is capable of being replicated on a massive scale.
Vencer Juntos is determined not to duplicate existing micro business support initiatives in Brazil but to leverage them and make them more effective. For example, the Brazilian government, through an entity called SEBRAE, already offers consulting and extension services to small businesses. However, these services tend to wait for clients to come to them and do not have a capacity to reach out to poor communities to develop new clients. Microcredit programs in Brazil have a similar limitation and their coverage has remained well below its potential. Vencer Juntos in effect develops a pipeline of new clients for these services.
To implement the business model, Vencer Juntos has a small team of highly trained and experienced professionals who supervise the CBAs, develop the consulting and training tools and help build the strategic partnerships. Vencer Juntos also hopes to create short-term opportunities for student interns and consultants from professional services firms who are interested in spending a limited time doing pro bono work for a worthwhile cause.
Most of Brazil’s truly successful initiatives to create cooperatives and micro businesses are fragmented and remain limited to one region. Vencer Juntos started operations in eleven selected micro-regions in seven states between 2003 and 2010 and intends to expand further. This ambition to build a national project has forced us to create a methodology and management practices that are quickly replicable and rely heavily on local staff and partner organizations while avoiding excessive dependence of each local project on the Vencer Juntos leadership team.