Operating for just over a year in partnership with the Florianópolis Municipality in southern Brazil, AMA - Environmental Agents has engaged city residents to participate in cleaning and preserving their own neighborhoods. The initiative transforms residents into paid environmental leaders and promoters of good environmental practices. Through a mobile application, they receive tasks and register their completed actions. In its first year, 600 Local Leaders acted throughout the city and were responsible for over 250,000 completed services.
The technology allows the government to measure the effectiveness of the results, generate relevant data, and remotely monitor the performance of each leader. It also enables the measurement of the population's perception of public services and governance in cities.
By performing the tasks defined by the platform, participants are remunerated for their activities. Local Leaders perform routine services such as sweeping sidewalks and public roads, promoting environmental education among residents, recycling, monitoring improper waste disposal, and clearing clogged drains, among other actions.
According to João da Luz, the Municipal Secretary of Cleaning and Urban Maintenance of Florianópolis, the evaluation is positive. "The platform has brought efficiency to the administration and helped raise public awareness. It has been a successful case for Florianópolis," says João.
Income generation and inclusion
In just over a year, over R$3.9 million (US$822k) has been distributed to the participants. The environmental leaders are hired as micro-entrepreneurs. The activities are carried out in the region where they live, with flexibility to fulfill their tasks received through the application, allowing them to earn up to R$1,100 per month. The majority of the communities chosen for the project are areas with social priority, lower income regions that did not regularly receive urban cleaning services.
"The financial injection in certain communities has created a great chain of positive impacts. Local businesses in the neighborhood have also benefited from this remuneration to residents. With the arrival of AMA, the local market, beauty salons, and other small businesses have seen an increase in their clientele and revenue," recalls Marcelo Crivano, the founder of AMA.
The introduction of the Local Leaders has made an impact in various regions of the state capital. In the Rio Tavares community, caretaker Jussara Daniel explains that the residents themselves have become more mindful of waste disposal since their arrival. "Having contact with our neighbors makes all the difference. They notice our activities and start to help us," reveals Jussara.
Marcel Renê Barone, a 59-year-old history professor, worked as a Local Leader from October 2022 to January 2023 in the Rio Vermelho region. Marcel Renê says the experience was enriching and made him feel valued. "I loved working outdoors and receiving attention from the people in the region. Some people criticized me for being a professor and doing manual labor. On the other hand, I received water, ice cream, and engaging conversations. I was particularly concerned about micro-trash like candy wrappers and cigarette butts," he recalls. Originally from Curitiba, he has been living in Florianópolis for 10 years. "After nine years, I lost my job as a professor in Florianópolis. I tried to find work again, but I believe that age prejudice prevented me from being selected in some schools. AMA gave me an opportunity to work and expand my knowledge," says Marcel.
Unprecedented Award and International Recognition
The AMA initiative achieved an unprecedented feat for the Brazilian innovation ecosystem in Texas, USA. The solution received the "Best Bootstrap Company" award at SXSW, which is granted to promising businesses that demonstrate creativity and potential across all competition categories without having received prior funding. This marked the first time in the 15-year history of the South by Southwest (SXSW) event, the leading global innovation conference, that a Brazilian company received this award.
In 2022, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the Swedish Innovation Agency Vinnova awarded the solution in the Climate Smart Cities Challenge. AMA was chosen among 45 sustainable initiatives to apply its environmental social networking and caretaking technologies in the city of Curitiba.
In 2023, the AMA Platform will lead a group of companies that will implement the award-winning model, focusing on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy sustainability and waste management in the Vale do Pinhão and Vila Torres neighborhoods in the Rebouças district. Alongside the AMA Platform, Curitiba Smart Neighborhoods will involve the Coletivo Ambiente Livre and the Swedish companies Smart Green Station and Nudgd.
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