Flower grower Eulália Farrath manages a flower and ornamental plant production farm in the city of Martinho Soares, in Minas Gerais. It all started as a hobby.
Dona Nenê, as she is known, explains that she did not meet her Lebanese grandmother, but she inherited from her mother her passion for plants and for Arab cuisine.
"I grew up seeing my mother taking great care of each plant and preparing kibbehs and grape-leaf rolls with great love," she said. "I remain faithful to the recipes brought from Lebanon to this date," she guarantees.
Dona Nenê recalls that she started growing flowers without planning to make a business out of it, growing them in her back yard. She was soon invited by her friends to participate in the Association of Ornamental and Exotic Plant Growers of Manhuaçu and Region (Appoex) and started operating in a more professional manner.
Little by little she increased the area she grows plants on and the production, which was between 30 and 40 dozen flowers a week in 2002, rose to 350 dozens a week last year.
"We started investing in tropical flowers, which are not very well known in the region. But I am betting on them. I think we are going to make a lot of money," stated the businesswoman.
Apart from Eulália, two other people have also been hired to help her, and her four children dedicate a little of their time to the flowers. But it is she who manages the farm.
"How to produce, what to produce and whom to sell to is all decided by me. I then pass the tasks on to other people," she explains.
Nowadays, the association in which Dona Nenê participates is receiving the support of a project accompanied by the Strategic Management Guided to Results methodology adopted by the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae).
The businesswoman sells her produce to all cities in the southeastern region of Minas Gerais and also to some cities in the neighboring state of Espírito Santo, also southeastern.
"As they are tropical flowers, our main clients are the owners of buffets and companies specialized in party decoration," she explained.
Dona Nenê is so optimistic that she believes she may start exporting in 2007. "We are dreaming with that. But I know that to compete on the foreign market your quality must be excellent and you must have adequate packaging," she states.
According to her, an agronomist from Costa Rica visited her property last year and stated that there is much market for tropical flowers on the foreign market. "Apart from that, we already have examples of Brazilian states like Alagoas which are successful exporters," pointed out the flower grower.
The success of Dona Nenê’s enterprise has already become renowned. She was one of the three winners of award "The Best Entrepreneurs of Brazil", promoted by Citibank, disclosed on December 4, in São Paulo. The businesswoman from Minas Gerais came in second place and won a 3,900 reais award (about US$ 1,800).
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