As a joint venture between Impala Terminals and Mubadala Development Company, the Porto Sudeste Port in Brazil became fully operational in 2015. The purpose-built terminal is located in Ilha da Madeira, 95 kilometres east of Rio de Janeiro. It exports iron ore and other bulk cargoes to international markets.

Porto Sudeste’s Environment and Social Responsibility team established a research project in 2014. ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Ilha da Madeira’ analysed the situation on the ground by engaging directly with residents, local leaders and businesses.

The research found that Ilha da Madeira’s 622 residents faced serious socio-economic challenges. Seventeen percent of them had to fetch water from wells. Illiteracy levels also merited action. Research into 85 local business owners, nearly half of them involved with fishing and small-scale boat transport, identified other obstacles to business development: 84 percent of local businesses had no internet access and 86 percent were unable to accept payment by card. Just 4 percent offered employees any kind of formal training.

Detailed analysis uncovered some notable gender gaps. Eighty-three percent of entrepreneurs were men; 35 percent of male residents, compared to just 15 percent of women, were in formal employment. Informal employment accounted for 3.1 percent of men and 7.5 percent of women.

Porto Sudeste’s team held extensive consultations on how best to promote local economic and cultural issues. This led to the creation of the Ilha Madeira Local Development Committee. Made up entirely of local residents, the Committee is building momentum for local community priorities. It has been an effective voice in discussions with private enterprise and local government. During late 2015 and early 2016 it developed detailed plans to promote vocational training and tourism, and support for cultural groups. Its ‘Inspiration for Entrepreneurs’ course has proved a highly effective, low-cost way for local businesses to share expertise.

OUTCOME: The Ilha Madeira Local Development Committee is a dynamic force giving local people greater control over their lives. The Porto Sudeste team supports it behind the scenes.