The Agency of Local Development (Adel) is a non-profit organization that has as its mission to promote the local development of rural communities through entrepreneurship and social protagonism of young people and farmers.
Adel’s is the result of the mobilization of young people from rural communities in the semiarid of Ceará who had the opportunity to go to university in the capital of the state, Fortaleza, and chose to return to their region, where they had been born and raised, to invest their knowledge and skills to promote local development.
While they were studying in courses such as Economics, Management, Agronomy, Engineering, Communication and Social Sciences, they understood the importance of knowledge as well as tools they were learning in their lectures for the development and social transformation of the rural communities they lived.
In 2007, these youngsters got organized and started to act in the Pentecoste region, in the north of the state, where they founded Adel to support vulnerable small rural producers focusing in strengthening family agriculture.
Adel’s headquarters is in Pentecoste, city 90km far from Fortaleza and the institution’s Formation Center is located in the neighboring municipality of São Gonçalo do Amarante.
Adel promotes local development of rural communities through entrepreneurship and the social protagonism of young people and farmers.
Through programs and projects, the organizations aims at contributing to develop rural communities in an endogenous way, emphasizing the sustainability of family agriculture, the creation of social capital and the permanence of young people in the rural area.
Adel seeks to develop technical and managerial capabilities along with social actors and offers them access to knowledge, credit, networks and technologies so they can find favorable conditions to start small enterprises in the communities.
Adel’s history was built entirely in the Ceará’s drylands, as it worked with family farmers and their children, who live in harsh contexts of social-economic vulnerability. People who identified that resilience was the essential component to realize development.
Resilience is the capacity to resist, overcome and live with challenges in a determined context, advancing to the desired path through the obstacle involved independently. It integrates strategies in the promotion of local development of Adel along with the institutional values of the organization.
Endeavoring, to Adel, is the attitude of having initiative to reach objectives and realize wishes, taking advantage of what is available: the opportunities and capabilities, skills and partnerships. Endeavoring is always a project. It might be a business project, a project to generate social impacts or a project to change or guide its own life.
The most important is the that it represents an advance, a concrete step towards something new, better than before. Something that makes a difference in the entrepreneur’s life and in the lives of other people involved. Endeavoring is transforming ideas, dreams and expectations in reality, in results and tangible gains.
It is also an important process for local development because it expresses the capability of people, fundamental agents of transformation, as they act in their communities and territories, applying their knowledge, skills and capabilities.
Adel works with concepts of commercial and social entrepreneurship. It works with people who find inspiration and motivation to transform their life and work conditions as well as of their communities, families and friends. They do it employing all their creativity and capacity to innovate.
Introducing the concept of entrepreneurship in the scenario where Adel works made that the organization got specialized, over the years, in acting in environments of elevated resilience – with cases of young people and farmers got together to adventure in projects and enterprises, overcoming hostilities and many challenges in the realities of life and labor. Endeavoring in resilience is a challenging process, but also very rewarding in programs of local development in the rural area.
Social protagonism is the fundamental component of citizenship. It is when each person assumes a pro-active function in managing, organizing and governing its community, its city, territory and country where he or she lives. It is when someone values its own role to improve the context where he or she is inserted as part of something bigger than himself.
Social protagonism exercises the role of leadership, mobilization, articulation and aggregation to engage partners and allies in projects, actions and enterprises that lead to positive changes in the lives of people surrounding them.
Adel believes that social protagonism is the condition for local development. And as more people become protagonists of organizational processes in their communities and territories, more opportunities of growth and fortification can be enjoyed. It leads to strategies so that young people and entrepreneurs become protagonists in community associations, cooperatives and other organizational and representative instances – enabling them to express capabilities to contribute positively to their region.
It is one of the differentials in Adel’s approach and strategy: to believe in how much cooperation, as a value and practice, is capable of contributing to local development. Cooperation is a process in which there complementing forces, compensating fragilities and sharing of efforts, resources, objectives and results, with accountability and commitment of each part involved. It is an action in which there are exchanges, reciprocity bonds and communion.
Cooperating makes endeavoring and protagonism processes much easier and effective to generate results. Through cooperation, an entrepreneur can find solution as forms such as the knowledge of a colleague and share a structure that benefits and aggregates value to products.
But what makes cooperation even more relevant to Adel is the potential to multiply results and social impacts in communities and territories. As rural entrepreneurs become capable of sharing structures that will allow all of them to aggregate value to their products and raise levels of income through all the productive chain.
As protagonists in community associations, together, they can complement one another to create and implement projects to strengthen forums and improve agendas and public policies that benefit the whole territory. And as young people who can support one another together they can generate new approaches and solution to commercialize products of family agriculture in more rentable markets.
The context of resilience collaborated for cooperation to be a central element in the actions of the organization. Actions based in a methodological approach that goes from the use of pedagogical elements to the consultancy for the formation of local productive arrangements as well as territorial cooperatives. Considering the shortage of resources and investments that many communities and groups of young people live with, cooperating is a necessary strategy to allow them to endeavor and advance in a project.
Youth has been a fundamental value since Adel’s Creation, when it was only an idea. It was inspired and articulated by young people from rural communities from the Middle Curu region.
Adel believes in the transformative force of Youth and in the strategic importance of young people as agents of development, whether they are entrepreneurs or protagonists in the their communities.
Young people bring with them new approaches, ideas and solutions and they are integrated with the most modern technologies and long for the opportunity to stay in the rural area. They have the drive to learn and, specially, to apply what they learnt in the reality itself. They can help to oxygenize and modernize production and management practices as well to dynamize local economies with non-agricultural business models, such as the services market, for instance.
But Youth represents more than a bunch of young people. It is a concepts that represents what young people can do and moves them when they are organized and articulated. It goes from productive arrangements and cooperatives that facilitate and improve business in the family agriculture to the creation of networks and forums that contribute to the elaboration and management of public policies in the sector. It is an inspiring spirit that can contaminate and animate entire communities.
It does not mean that Adel prioritizes or only works with young people in its programs. All the actions that Adel develops aim to involve and mobilize youth that exists in communities and opportunities for its development.
These farmers, who have very little schooling, produce under very precarious circumstances: they practically don’t have tools, technical or technological resources, they have difficulty to access credit to invest in rural establishments and live with lack of water for irrigation and animal production. As consequence, they cannot produce with the quality and scale necessary to reach the main markets and better wages.
They rarely manage to sell goods directly to local markets. Therefore, they are forced to resort to middlemen, commerce mediators who buy the production in early stages of production chains for prices way lower than the ones practiced on the market and resell with real market prices, for adding value. Farmers end up having a tiny proportion of the economic results of all this process, resulting in an insufficient family income to their own subsistence and in continuous reproduction of the cycle of poverty in the rural area.
During the first years of action, Adel realized how powerful and strategic the role of young people is in rural development of communities and in overcoming the many challenges in family farming in Brazilian semiarid regions. Adel recognizes that there is nowadays in Northeast of Brazil a generation of young people with the highest schooling of their region’s history. Many of them had the opportunity of finishing high school and even getting into university, which was nothing but a distant dream until the beginning of this century. They are aware of what is happening to the world around them and have access to knowledge and information about modern solutions and technologies that could help their own families overcome the challenges in living with the semiarid region reality.
And the most important: they are able to understand the potential of current opportunities to work and to execute in their communities to transform their family’s lives and their own. From a very early age, young people in semiarid communities hear at home and even in school that the safest way they can take to improve their lives in the future is looking for a job in a big city. They hear from friends and neighbors that if they stay in the rural area, in their communities, they will only repeat the lives of their families, with all the immense challenges. A young person quitting school early, before even finishing middle school in order to migrate to cities like Fortaleza, São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro is considered something natural and normal in the region.
However, during these years acting with the communities, Adel observed that most young people wish to stay where they live. It is not their will to quit school, leave their families and community to try life in another city. They seek opportunities with which they can invest their own knowledge and abilities to improve production practices of family farming or to start and develop a small business or personal project, working with their families, neighbors and other young locals. Entrepreneurship is a real and effective possibility for these young people.
Besides that, Adel believes that when young entrepreneurs develop technical and management capacities and take position of protagonism, they start to significantly help their families and other farmers of the community to improve production and management practices in rural establishments and enterprises. Many young people become leaders in local communities, helping traditional farmers organize themselves to create cooperatives and productive arrangements, market together and in a direct way what they produce, influence public policies and support programs to family farming. These young people become, after all, agents of development in the communities where they live and in all the territory.