Sustainability and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Indigenous Entrepreneurship in the Brazilian Amazon Region

Sustainability and Entrepreneurship: Fostering Indigenous Entrepreneurship in the Brazilian Amazon Region

Raul Gouvea (Anderson Schools of Management, the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsesd.2014070105
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Abstract

This article elaborates on the diverse entrepreneurial activities of indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon region. This article argues that further sustainability of the Brazilian Amazonian region is intrinsically linked to the entrepreneurial activities by indigenous communities in the Amazon region. Amazonian indigenous communities are under increasing economic and social pressure. Fostering sustainable indigenous entrepreneurship in these disadvantaged indigenous communities has the potential to improve indigenous communities, economic and social welfare, preserve their culture, customs, and traditional knowledge, in addition to the rebuilding of these communities. Thus, engagement of indigenous communities in sustainable activities further protects the local natural capital. The article also proposes the creation of a center for indigenous entrepreneurship in the Amazon region aiming at supporting and fostering indigenous entrepreneurship.
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1. Introduction

The Brazilian Amazon region is one the world’s largest reservoir of biomaterials, which holds close to 30% of the world’s tropical forest. It is also the world’s largest reservoir of fresh water. In addition, the region also shows a rich indigenous social and cultural diversity. Environmental concerns have been at the forefront of any discussion related to entrepreneurial activities in the Amazon region (Acselrad, 1991; Dantas, 2008; Almeida and Campari, 2005; Vergolino, Gomes, and Monteiro Neto, 1999; Villas Boas, 2011a,b).

The Amazon region is one of Brazil’s most vibrant economic region, far from being an empty space, offering a number of business opportunities that is slowly unfolding to economic agents that make the effort to design business strategies and environmental strategies, innovations, and technologies in order to preserve Brazil’s unique ecosystem. Today, one of the most pressing issues in the Brazilian Amazon region is to how to address poverty, while at the same time promoting economic development and growth and preserving this fragile ecosystem and protecting local populations. The region has seen over the past few centuries several cycles of economic development that have brought income into the region but also had dramatic impacts on the local environment and local populations (Dias, Zacca and Nogueira, 1998; Golding, Smith, and Mahar, 1996; Gouvea, 1998, Gouvea, 2000).

Currently, the region is undergoing a third cycle of economic development, one that demands a “green” inclusive approach to economic development and one that takes into account the indigenous communities of welfare, traditional knowledge and protection of their culture. It is clear that no plans for the future economic development of the Brazilian Amazon region can take place if the local indigenous populations are not consulted and involved in the design of these economic and social regional plans (Almeida, 1992; Almeida and Campari, 1995; Benchimol, 1992;Guimaraes, 2010).

Accounting for 60% of Brazil’s landmass, the Amazon region is Brazil’s newest economic frontier, holding the promise for further economic growth and development of the Brazilian economy and society. This economic development and growth, has however, to take into account the native communities that reside in the Amazon region (Almeida and Campari, 1995; Allegretti, 1992, Terena, 2008; Terena, 2010).

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