Story of Impact:
Solidarium

Before Unreasonable


Tiago Dalvi

Tiago Dalvi

Tiago Dalvi founded Solidarium in 2007 after discovering that there were 8.5 million artisans in Brazil, making quality products for competitive prices but lacking the knowledge and connections to sell them outside their communities. At the same time, retailers were hungry for handmade products but didn’t know where to find them. His vision for Solidarium was to bridge that gap.

By the time Tiago came to the Unreasonable Institute in 2011, he had experimented with opening Solidarium as a store in a Brazilian shopping mall, but quickly discovered that this approach limited scalability. From there, he landed contracts to sell Solidarium’s products in Walmart and other major Brazilian retailers, but realized that this offline business model was both expensive and logistically challenging. It was a critical inflection point in the company’s development; as Tiago says, “We knew we had to change and create something different or else the company would fail.”

Unreasonable Difference

While at the Unreasonable Institute, Tiago developed a whole new strategy for Solidarium taking the vision he had created in the offline world and bringing it online through a web platform. Over 80% of Brazilian artisans had access to the internet, but less than 1% sold their products online. Tiago set out to change that.

  • Unreasonable introduced Tiago to mentors like Fred Vernack (Chief Investment Officer, Institute for Innovative Training), Daryn Dodson (Venture Consultant to the Board of Directors, Calvert Funds) and Adriana Halloran (founding member of Halloran Philanthropies), who helped him develop a new strategy and business model. “We were in a delicate situation,” Tiago says. “Mentors were critical to shaping our new direction.”
  • Unreasonable connected Tiago to Walmart US, who introduced him to Walmart Brazil. Tiago credits that introduction with planting the seed for his new business model. Through that connection, the former CEO of Walmart Brazil, Flavio Dias, has become a close advisor, investor, and Board member of Solidarium.
  • Unreasonable also introduced Tiago to Ashoka and eBay, who shortly after the Institute awarded him a price accompanied by a grant of $50,000 that helped enable Solidarium to launch the first version of its online platform.
  • The Unreasonable community has provided invaluable support to Tiago as he continues to grow his business. In his own words, “Unreasonable is about more than just business; you create lifelong friends. I know I can count on the network. Entrepreneurs face related issues and problems. We may work in different countries, contexts, and businesses, but our challenges are complementary; by sharing with each other, we can evolve.”

Solidarium Today

Solidarium is now the fastest-growing marketplace for handmade products in Brazil. The company has more than 3 million page views (and more than 600,000 unique visitors) every month, with more than 25,000 artisan sellers and 60,000 products listed on the platform. Solidarium also has commercial agreements with all the top retailers in Brazil, including Walmart, Lojas Renner (JC Penney for Brazil), Tok Stok (Ikea for Brazil), Mercado Livre and is launching a new platform through which artisans will be able to sell directly to them.

Solidarium attracts almost 2,500 new artisans every month, and the social impact from this impressive growth is substantial. Most Solidarium artisans double their income within six months, and become the main breadwinners for their family. Tiago sees this as “great responsibility” and strives to help artisans overcome any distribution barriers they may face, providing professional resources, credit, and other tools to help the develop their businesses. As Tiago says, “Our mission is to work side-by-side with our sellers and create something that deeply changes the reality of the 8.5 million artisans in Brazil.”

In the next five years, Tiago aims to reach at least 1 million artisans, and replicate the Solidarium business model in other countries.

Why Unreasonable?

Tiago says of his Unreasonable experience: “When I went to Unreasonable, something magical happened. It was a major tipping point for Solidarium, and the strategy I developed there was the beggining of a revolution at our business. Unreasonable gave me the right people and the right experience at the right time. It was meant to be.”