My journey exploring the sustainability sector in Brazil

April 14, 2014
by Gwendoline

Amazing natural retreat in Bahia




The air is heavy with fresh moisture and the mingled chirping of birds. Community members pad serenely past a tangled heap of dogs playing on the floor. There are ten of us scattered around the hillside in wooden bungalows. Guests are left to their own devices. On my first morning as a volunteer at Pedra do Sabia I was given the day off, so while everyone had breakfast at eight I rose later and helped myself to four exquisitely delicious bananas and a cup of coffee and then sat on the terrace to write. Stepping stones wind down the lawn to the pavilion where Qi Gong sessions are held every morning, and beyond it I can see the River Contas sweeping through lush tropical rainforest.

Hugo, a quiet Frenchman, founded Pedra do Sabia in 2008, 15 kilometers away from Itacare (Bahia, North of Brazil) in a Private Reserve of Natural Heritage. I asked him why he decided to leave Europe. He looks at me over the large frames of his spectacles and speaks slowly through a thick accent:

“I always felt there was something wrong with the way of life in Europe, all that waste and stress. I wanted to build a place where I could live in harmony with the natural cycles of nature.” They grow much of their own food here and prepare three delicious vegetarian meals a day. Fruits of all shapes Continue Reading →

March 23, 2014
by Gwendoline

Visiting Rio and looking for housing? Why not consider renting in the favelas ?

Favela Experience

I met Elliot a few weeks ago. I was really curious after having heard so much about him, “the American guy who rents out rooms and flats to tourists in the favelas”.  Indeed, his start-up Favela Experience does exactly that: offer affordable housing, for international tourists coming for instance for the World Cup, in the pacified favelas of Rio, mostly Rocinha and Vidigal in the South Zone of Rio where the views are beautiful. Consider him the Airbnb of  favelas. Actually, he uses the famous rental platform to list some of his offerings.

The things I love about Elliot’s venture are:

-       that Elliot had the guts to start it on his one as a “gringo” in Brazil

-       that the foreign visitors will get to Continue Reading →

January 27, 2014
by Gwendoline

Where to buy organic products? 7 natural shops in Rio

I have already mentioned in a previous post some restaurant options for organic and vegetarian food but I thought it would also be useful to report on organic shops and markets where you can buy organic or natural food to cook or eat at home.

Other than the chain Mundo Verde , which most people know, here are some wonderful – and somewhat more discrete addresses that I recommend.

Some names you will recognize from my restaurant list because they actually have a shop as well as a restaurant.

This is the case for  Emporio Saúde in Ipanema and Botafogo : a little store when you can buy vegetarian and organic products. There is also Metamorfose in the Centro, on rua Santa Luzia and last but not least New Natural in Ipanema on Barrão da Torre  which I mentioned in my post on natural açaí. New natural also has various gluten-free and dairy-free products.



I also recommend Continue Reading →

January 20, 2014
by Gwendoline

Organic food for your baby in Brazil



Your baby can eat organic too !

Indeed I found another address that I thought would interest some of you who are mums: a delivery service for organic baby food!!

It is called Empório da Papinha. They sell soups made of organic vegetables (with or without chunks) and a variety of fruit purées, made of organic fruit and with no additives.

You can go buy the products in store or get them delivered in Rio, Sao Paulo and other cities in Brazil (check here for full list) .

The nice surprise is that they actually also offer a selection of dishes for the entire family such as frozen beef strogonoff or chicken in orange sauce.

If you are feeling lazy but want you and your baby to eat healthy, this seems like a good option !

January 9, 2014
by Gwendoline

Where to eat vegetarian, organic or natural food in Rio ?

In terms of organic and vegetarian restaurant in Rio, my first great discovery in was in Leblon, a tiny place which holds only a handful of tables  and also acts as caterer, located on rua Conde de Bernadotte. They serve tasty healthy organic food for a very cheep price given the location. There is a different menu every day; you can eat in or take out (or order in). The place is called Vegetariano Social Club .




A few months later I discovered a great place in Copacabana called Continue Reading →

December 13, 2013
by Gwendoline

A quest for natural açaí


As probably many of you who live in Rio, I really love açaí . After trying it in all the different restaurants and “lanches” of the city, I wanted to be able to eat it at home. I first bought one that I found at the Zona Sul supermarket. It’s called “açai natural” and come in a convenient pot like  ice cream.

Reading the ingredient label however, I saw it contained guaraná syrup that most shops add in the açaí mix. The issue with the guaraná syrup is that it adds a lot of calories and it’s artificially sweetened. I also noted that the açaí fruit used for this brand of açaí mix was not organic. So I decided to look for a more natural one.

Continue Reading →

December 12, 2013
by Gwendoline

Climbing for change


Today I’m going to tell you the inspiring story of the two gringo guys who created a climbing school in Rocinha, the biggest favela of Rio de Janeiro.
I first heard about the project a few months ago and contacted Asa, who was the contact person and co-founder. Asa currently lives in Boulder, Colorado and throughout our conversations he told me about his long lasting passion for climbing and about a trip he made to Brazil in 2003 while in college, during which he had planned to climb the famous mountains “ Dois irmãos” (Two brothers) but he was told that it was too dangerous, because of the gang wars going on in the favela located on this mountain.

That event was the spark that made Asa wonder: what if he could create a program to teach the kids of the favelas to climb, which could offer Continue Reading →

November 27, 2013
by Gwendoline

Impacto 2013: The Future of Business

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On Monday, in the context of the Global Entrepreneurship week, around 500 guests came together in the Oi Auditorium in Leblon to discuss the future of business.

Organized by Rio-based accelerator Pipa, along with Endeavor, a world wide organization promoting entrepreneurship, Impacto 2013 featured presentations by various leading entrepreneurs, from Brazil and beyond, around four thematic pillars: Open, Good, High Tech and Creativity.

It was truly energizing to hear these young innovators showing us how Continue Reading →

November 4, 2013
by Gwendoline

Rio Social Investors Day

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Last Thursday, I spent the day @ MAR, the new Art Museum in the center of Rio, to attend the “Rio Social Investors Day”, an event created as an answer to the “Rio Investors Day”, which was a conference created in 2011 to bring together public and private actors to discuss the investing opportunities in Rio.

The Rio Social Investors Day was lead by Eduarda La Rocque of Instituto Pereira Passos, a research/data center of the city of Rio, for economic development. It brought together representatives of NGOs and impact investing funds, as well as members of different branches of local and national government to discuss in a series of roundtable sessions the social investment opportunities in Rio.

More specifically, the goal of the day was to identify Continue Reading →

October 21, 2013
by Gwendoline

How private firms can contribute to reforestation


Pur Projet was founded in 2008 by Tristan Lecomte, a leading figure and pioneer of fair trade in Europe (Young Global Leader in Davos and Ashoka Fellow in 2009).

Some private companies realized that their activity was part of a larger ecosystem and decided that they wanted to contribute positively to this environment.

Tristan Lecomte, along with a team of social entrepreneurs, are using this awareness. The Pur Projet team acts as Continue Reading →