From the ashes, a rebirth.
Friends of Portugal partnership helps award 7,000 euros to business initiatives in rural Portugal
Before the devastating fires that hit Pedrógão Grande last summer, you’d probably be hard pressed to find Portuguese people in the Lisbon area who were familiar with the region. Located in the interior of Portugal, Pedrógão Grande has long suffered from lack of economic opportunity, tourism marketing strategies and economic stimulus initiatives. The region entered into the national conversation after the fires last year as all of Portugal gathered in unity to help rebuild an already vulnerable region.
For that reason and considering last year’s tragedy, several Portuguese professionals from Pedrógão Grande and beyond, got together to form the Re-nascer project (Portuguese for rebirth) in partnership with Friends of Portugal and A Ponte.
The project's most recent initiative was the Re-nascer Challenge which had its culmination May 5, 2018. In it, 11 participants participated in a three-month long business pitch contest and were eligible for monetary support amounting to 5,000 euros. That wasn’t all that was offered as participants were able to attend free seminars and lectures covering topics such as digital marketing, investment and finance.
The final event took place in Castanheira da Pêra, a region neighboring Pedrógão Grande. Present were many of the top Portuguese political and business personalities and leaders including, Paulo Barradas, the CEO and founder of Blue Pharma (a major Portuguese pharmaceutical company), a representative from Montepio (one of the major banks in the country), the president of Castanheira da Pêra and other political entities. Also present was a representative from the United States Embassy.
The top prizes went to an app that would help senior citizens (which make up a large portion of the rural population) with basic every day tasks, an online platform that would make it easier for business incubators to set up (awarded to an 18-year old man) maintain and manage appointments and business opportunities. First place was awarded to a business venture consisting of an inn and spa that would drive more tourism to the region of Pedrógão Grande.
But these weren’t the only winners. Inspired by the events of the day an anonymous Portuguese person donated another 1,000 euros to another business idea, the Montepio representative pledged an additional 1,000 euros for one of the ideas and the President of Castanheira da Pêra provided free facilities for two of the business ideas.
Two months ago, Friends of Portugal leadership had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the United States Embassy who expressed a desire to collaborate with our projects. They emphasized the great need to provide economic stimulus and support to the rural regions. We are thankful that this partnership has provided us with the opportunity to do just that.
Friends of Portugal European Director Hendrik von Niessen and one of the founders of the Re-nascer Project shared his hope and vision for this initiative.
“My immediate hope is to see these 9 projects succeed,” he said. “This is the beginning for a different future, one filled with hope and faith. Our hope is that we would continue to improve people’s lives by creating opportunity for economic growth and new jobs and really impacting the economic system in Pedrógão Grande.”
Friends of Portugal also shares in this hope.