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After the açaí pulp is extracted at the processing plant, the seeds are taken to the slums of Belém. In this poor area, 20% of the homes lacked basic plumbing.

Humberkelly Cardoso de Souza (otherwise known as Kelly) is a mother who lives in a derelict room with her mother and father. The family's only possessions are a small couch, a television, a gas stove and a table. The table is covered with polished and dyed açaí seeds, which Kelly uses to make necklaces and bracelets. Knowing first hand how difficult entrepreneurship is in Brazil, Fernanda guided Kelly, who has a 5th-grade education, through the legal and logistical barriers, starting with setting up a simple bank account. She has been making bracelets with EarthFruits for a year now, and has a team of workers, also from the slums, to help the business grow. The jewelry is sold both locally and in the U.S.

"My small business has empowered me," she says. "I am able to provide a better life for my parents and my children. I can even afford to give my daughter dance lessons." Kelly produces thousands of bracelets each month, which are marketed in the U.S. as authentic Amazon jewelry.

"At the rate I am going, it is entirely possible that I will be able to move out of here and give my family a better home."

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LAST UPDATE: Oct 02 2008 | 11:21 AM ET
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