The online platform comerciantes.pt was created to help small business facing COVID-19 pandemic situation. Fernando Amaral, one of the founders, is a Técnico alumnus. “The idea of creating a platform to encourage a more sustainable consumption already existed, but we were not sure how to put it into practice”, he recalls. A group of volunteers, including other Técnico alumni, joined Fernando Amaral and Julie Belião, another founder of the project. “At the moment we have 15 people working in this project”, shares Fernando Amaral.
“The online platform comerciantes.pt exclusively aims at promoting small business”, highlights Fernando Amaral, who also explains the big difference between this online platform and other projects that promote small business: “We are a fully functional online marketplace, where you can see and add the products of several traders to the shopping cart and do a single checkout at the end. In addition, the platform tells the story of people behind small business, “showing traditional commerce and neighbourhood life”.
The team led by Fernando Amaral offers consultancy and technical support to traditional traders. “It has been relatively easy. They were forced to reinvent their business models due to the crisis”. “At this moment, they are very receptive to the idea of having alternative sales channels to overcome their difficulties”, adds the founder of comerciantes.pt.
In the first phase, the project only included Lisbon traditional traders capable of deliverying their products or contract delivery services. But the team wants to reach other parts of the country. “The idea is creating a platform, processes and documentation that can be easily replicated in any city in the country and abroad”, explains Fernando Amaral. “Técnico taught us to think this way”, he says.
You can virtually visit stores located in Campo de Ourique, such as “Casa a Granel” – spices, teas and dry fruits, or in Arroios, such as “Flor de Lúpulo” – craft beer. The platform has 12 online stores, including butcheries, fish markets, bakeries, drugstores, wine cellars, etc.
“The feedback has been positive but the truth is that we still have few orders,” says Fernando Amaral. “We will need a sustainable business model for our team as well” and, therefore, “we want to create a company and capture some pre-seed funding so that we can dedicate ourselves 100% to the project”, he adds.
This platform brings the Portuguese closer together and allows them to help small business. “We don’t want the small business to disappear from our neighbourhoods. We can’t afford to lose the diversity of their products and their knowledge. As consumers and as a society, we think it’s important to support this kind of commerce”, says the Técnico alumnus.