Acton Institute Powerblog

Using rice to help refugees and fight corruption in Brazil

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Corruption scandal after corruption scandal has rocked Brazil for years, with ex-president Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment and ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s conviction on corruption charges. Michel Temer, Brazil’s sitting president, has also faced charges of corruption, primarily stemming from relationships with the state-owned oil company, Petrobras. An obvious lack of transparency and ethics is present in Brazilian markets, what we often refer to as crony capitalism.Image may contain: text

“More than a brand, a movement.” With this slogan as the battle cry, Acton alumnus Jean Regina is working tirelessly to advance intentional consumerism throughout Brazil in order to combat this crony capitalist trend. He is cultivating this movement through the launch of his company, Sunrice.

A lawyer by training, Jean noticed two pervasive problems throughout Brazil:

  1. A large number of refugees, living in dire situations, have entered Brazil from Venezuela and the Middle East;
  2. Brazilian consumerism has become detached from intentionality, allowing corporate corruption to run rampant.

Jean quickly found a suitable solution to these two problems through entrepreneurship.

Sunrice is a national rice production and distribution company that places an emphasis on producing “high quality food that is affordable for all Brazilians.” But it doesn’t stop there. As Jean says, “The cause, however, was what drove us further. Excellence and fair price are the basis of our brand, but we believe in accomplishing more.”

Sunrice has focused their humanitarian relief efforts towards the growing population of refugees, both in Brazil and around the world. “There are 22 million refugees in the world – half of them less than 18 years old – and there is lots of consumerism in Brazil, but no intention.” Jean says the best way to face this problem is “through entrepreneurship and finding virtue in markets.” They are working to fight this up-hill battle by dedicating a large portion of their profits to organizations that are assisting refugees around the globe.

In its first year of operation, their brand has been licensed by nine factories and is being distributed throughout three Brazilian states. This disruptive business model, that seeks profit while simultaneously focusing on humanitarian relief, is primed to make a major impact on the Brazilian landscape. Social entrepreneurship is a rare concept in Brazil.

In addition to rice production and distribution and humanitarian relief, Sunrice has plans to launch a think tank that will be one of the first of its kind in Brazil. The think tank initiative of Sunrice will work to advance many of the ideas that Jean learned through his time at Acton University, precisely how to cultivate a society that is freer and more virtuous. Jean believes they will impact thousands through the distribution of high quality rice at an affordable price, but that they will impact millions through the training and distribution of resources that bring virtue to the market system.

While scandal after scandal has rocked the Brazilian business and government landscape, it’s encouraging to find a young entrepreneur that understands the importance of cultivating freedom and virtue in society. If their first year in business is representative of what the future has in store, Sunrice will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the minds, and stomachs, of Brazilians.

Featured image is CC0

Patrick Oetting

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