It feels like it was yesterday, but it has been 10 years already. Seat, because here comes our history 🙂

It looks like it was yesterday, but it’s has been many years. Raízes was born from a collective dream of using tourism as a tool for development. It was recreating itself along its road, sometimes focusing on parts, sometimes looking at the whole. The company tried different business models, accumulated success stories and also “bought some learning”, as we like to refer to the investments of time and money in which we did not achieve the expected results. It was blood, sweat and smile. Lots of laughs. Because if it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable! Our great motto!

Amazing people bought this dream and shared that road. Many went to other directions, in a definitive or temporary way. Distant or parallel roads, that still cross eventually. This is the flow of life. But somehow, all these people are still here, rooted. We are the sum of our stories. And this is the story that we share with you, though very summarized, in this timeline.

Historic

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2002/2005

Raízes was officially born in 2006, but it´s first steps happened before. We, the co-founders, met at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), when we started the college in 2002. From this meeting, we created Território, UFMG’s Junior Tourism Enterprise. And in 2005, we graduated an uneasiness to endeavour.
2006

The Raízes came from a real restlessness and will to do different. There were many idealized dreams, many debates. The co-creation of name, brand, portfolio… At that moment, we were four partners. The first year, 2006, was marked by a work with the ecological and economic zoning of Caeté and Sabará. We also started the executive coordination of the Brazilian Association of Ecotourism and Adventure Tourism (ABETA).

2007

This year, we started to take care of ABETA’s communication and articulation´s coordination. We participate in many relevant events in the sector such as the Minas Gerais Tourism Fair, the National Tourism Fair and technical events of the Safe Adventure program. It was in 2007 also that Raízes created its first website. At the time we still combined the company with external work (at the city hall, a tourism agency, NGO), but chasing the dream of living only from the company.
2008

Our third year was marked by a great achievement: the organization of the Adventure Travel World Summit in Brazil, in which we worked hard. It was a year of intense work at ABETA for the programs of Ecotourism International Promotion and Safe Adventure. We, MM and Mari, moved to São Paulo and hired our first intern, Eliana.

2009

We kept working in the ecotourism and adventure tourism segment, this time, collaborating to build a new branding. We also expanded our work in Brazil: while Marianne was doing community-based work in Aritapera, Santarém, state of Pará, with the local artisans, our Sustainability consultant, Lucila Egydio, worked in the same state, in the project Ecotourism Reference Destination in Santarém.

It was then that our restlessness grew in doing work with more meaning. We went to the field at the Jequitinhonha Valley, in the northeast of Minas Gerais, and mapped 20 communities. This motivated us to create Raízes Handicraft, a project focused on the fair trade of handicrafts from the north of Minas Gerais State and the Jequitinhonha region. The tourism graduate Tauana Costa also joined our team in São Paulo.
2010

In that year, we had a base office and product stock of Raízes Handicraft at Impact Hub in São Paulo and an office in Belo Horizonte. The work was intense in the correction of the tourism offer inventories from Minas Gerais (422 municipalities) and along the Estrada Real. In this period, we had more than 20 interns in Belo Horizonte, and in São Paulo, our beloved Japa (the first of many Japanese descendant employees!), Ana Paula Simamura.

We held an Exhibition from Minas Gerais Handicraft at Minas Gerais House, in São Paulo, and participated in many other handicraft events. The work was also intense in the São Paulo metropolis with the formalization of the Bike Alliance Association, which we have been working since 2009, and support to develop the Brazilian Luxury Tourism Association (BLTA) and Braztoa (Brazilian Association of Tour Operators). Phew! Full energy!
2011

We participated in the Sustainable Tourism Exhibition at Foz do Iguaçu in 2011 and worked with the cities of Piranhas and Marechal Deodoro at Alagoas State. There we did trainings to the Brazil Brand Institute, besides working in São Miguel das Missões, at the south region of Brazil. The Pantanal Expedition, led by Lucila Egydio our colleague known as “Sustenta” (meaning sustainable), travelled the entire biome looking for sustainable practices.

We also participated in the Bom de Copa project, qualifying staff from bars and restaurants in Belo Horizonte for the world cup in Brazil. Then we went on a trip to Jequitinhonha Valley, where we met with the community and decided together to change the focus of the income generation work from handicraft to Community Based Tourism.

We had a super Japanese descendant´s reinforcement on our team with the entry of Raiza Kato and Mayra Sayuri!

2012

This was a remarkable year! We were finalists of the Social Entrepreneur of the Future Award, promoted by the newspaper Folha. Mari’s daughter, Maria Luiza, was born. Together with Bike Alliance, we organized the first Brazil Cycle Fair.

Jussara Rocha, our consultant and now a partner, joined the team, working in Mantiqueira and Low São Francisco River regions.

The ArteCarste Project in Minas Gerais brought together a team of consultants, including us, with an intent to help adding value to artisans from 8 municipalities in the Caves Circuit;

New interpretative packages were created for the Raízes handicrafts. This was possible due our first crowdfunding. And finally, we created a new website. Meanwhile, in the São Paulo office … Mônica Rezende started working as intern with us.
2013

One more year of recognitions, we were finalists of the Braztoa Sustainability Award!

In 2013, we also opened a new office in Belo Horizonte, continued the ArteCarste project, we took on the challenge of remodelling RedeJur and hired our dear Bela Braichi.

In São Paulo, we assume the executive management of ABETA. Rebeca Yoshisato joins the team at São Paulo with the first man from the internal team, Gabriel Batista.

Around Brazil, we carried out the Project (and what a project!) of Tourism Development in the state of Maranhão, and the Tourism Promotion Project of Low São Francisco, in which after completing the development and segmentation plan, we joined a project team that formed the business networking.
2014

We tend to say that every year of the company was special. But in 2014, we created the Community Tourism Route “Do Barro à Arte” (meaning from clay to art), our sweetheart. We also had the pleasure of working with the Arara Azul Institute in Campo Grande.

Meanwhile, Lucila was managing the SOS Pantanal NGO, right next to us. We worked in São Bento do Norte – at Rio Grande do Norte state. The dear Maria Luiza Spolaor, after having worked with us at ArteCarste, has consolidated her position as a consultant on the team in this project.

We have been certified as B Corporation and became part of this global community of best companies to the world! We also held our first Abeta Summit as ABETA managers and, on top of it, Marianne participated in Vital Voices, an international women-led business acceleration program.
2015

Each year, the projects were growing. In 2015, we resumed the work of Projeto Bagagem Association, an important organization of Community Based Tourism. We also worked together with Artesol and the Public Ministry in a beautiful project of cultural rescue at Jequitinhonha Valley. It was our responsibility to organize the 2nd Meeting of Turisol in Brasilia, a unique opportunity to restart the dialogue among the main initiatives of Community Based Tourism in Brazil.

In Minas Gerais, at the Morro d’Água Quente community, we started a project of Women Empowerment in partnership with Vale (a big Brazilian mining company). At Guarda do Embaú, in Santa Catarina, we started a movement about a new way of thinking and living the place, with the support of our mobilizer Marli Luisa.

The beloved travel curator Maria Sônia Pinho joined the team in some projects, especially in the organization of the gastronomy fair Sabores do Morro, together with the local mobilizer Poliana Martins. For the executive management of ABETA, Matheus Marques came to replace Rebeca on the team.

With great joy, we also did a super job of Sustainable Practices Benchmarking for Toyota in Brazil.

2016

This, which marks the 10 years of company, has been an intense and valuable year! Mariana was nominated as a finalist for the Claudia Award. Mayra, our dear supervisor, left to live a sabbatical in Australia. In Brazil, we won a space in Rio de Janeiro to call home, the Goma co-working, and received Jamile Chadud in the team. It was the year of the Olympic Games in Brazil and Raízes, in partnership with Rio 2016 and UNEP, implemented the Green Passport campaign with the support of Endaira Santos on the team.

This year was also marked by our first international project: the entrepreneur´s development for rural family tourism on the Route of Rural Villages in Santo Antão, Cape Verde Island, Africa!

Marianne created along with other social entrepreneurs the campaign #33diassemMachismo, that was a success!

She left Raízes to create a spin-off of the company: Vivejar, a positive impact tourist operator focused on offering experiences for individuals and traditional Brazilian communities reconnecting values and bringing realities closer together. A purpose that was born inspired by the actions of Raízes at the Jequitinhonha Valley and expanded to the world from this learning!

2017

The year of 2017 was marked by an intense work of skill development with the weavers of Senhora do Carmo district at Itabira, Minas Gerais. A project in partnership with Vale Foundation. It was a year of many lectures and mini-courses, highlighting the moderation of a meeting at Paranaguá, Paraná state, that brought together indigenous people, caiçaras (traditional communities from the Brazilian coast) and quilombolas (descendants from enslaved africans) to create a Community Based Tourism network. This year we had the collaboration of the French Anäis Roig who worked with us for 10 months.

We were nominated as finalists for the To DO Award, an international award for tourism initiatives aligned with the principles of sustainability. It also worth mentioning a recognition on Forbes magazine in a special article about impact business.

Mariana participated in the experts meeting “Transforming Tourism” in Germany and the result was the Declaration of Berlin 2017. This year Mariana and Jussara also visited Colombia, this time to participate in the First Latin American Meeting of Community Based Tourism.

The partnership between Raízes and Korui began. Koruí is a company from Florianópolis that produces and markets menstrual cups. Bringing together Koruí´s desire to donate these menstrual cups to those who do not have access and Raízes’ expertise in working with communities and women’s empowerment, the Dona do Meu Fluxo (meaning owner of my own flor) project was launched with its first edition in our beloved Jequitinhonha Valley.

2018

2018 started lively with the return of Tauana, one of our first interns, after 07 years at Aoka and a sabbatical year around the world. Who also arrived at Raízes was Marina Camargo, our administrative support. Throughout the year we strengthened partnerships with former consultants such as Maria Luiza Spolaor, Isabela Braichi and Lizandra Barbuto, as well as new ones, such as Felipe França.

The second edition of Dona do Meu Fluxo was in the Amazon, in the riverside communities of Pará state. For this new phase of the project we counted on the support of Natura, a national cosmetic company that has strong local action with the cultivation and extraction of herbs, tubers and seeds by traditional communities who live on the forest.

In addition to seeing Flores do Carmo Project flourish with the consolidation of its collective women’s business, we started supporting a group of tapestry artisans in Periquito, also in Minas Gerais. The purpose of the project is to generate income and autonomy for the local women.

It was a year of work also with tourism, in this case, in Resplendor, Minas Gerais. A destination with great potential and that can grow with our support to local entrepreneurs. Raízes’ other expertise, dialogue facilitation and support in conflict resolution was important on a project at Barcarena, Pará state, where we had meetings with traditional communities to deal with territorial issues involving the state government and large companies.