We have been inspired by the rich and diverse backgrounds of our own cultures and personal experiences, enhanced by Portugal Itself and the beautiful Alentejo. It makes us anchored in the environment and at the same time open to international collaboration and exchange, promoting an inclusive space where people can learn from each other’s challenges.meet our striber
Funding needed: € 250.000,-
- Type of business: start-up
- Type of investment:
- equity/ convertible
- Type of investor: passive and/ or advisory
- Crowdfunding: yes
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The Alentejo (a rural province in southern Portugal the size of three quarters of the Netherlands) is considered one of the driest areas in Europe and faces some major challenges, such as aging and depopluation, impoverishment and desiccation. Partly due to the effects of climate change, the region is going through more and more periods of drought, with high temperatures. The ecological challenges are also related to the traditional cultivation of agricultural areas, which year after year, through the repeated use of machines, risks further degrading the soil, gradually reducing productivity and (economic) yield. In the last ten years you have therefore seen a decrease in the number of farms, but at the same time an increase in the average surface area per farm. After all, you need large tracts of land to be able to generate revenue in such a dry area at all. However, due to the lack of economic prospects, new generations do not see attractive opportunities to settle permanently in the region, leading to a flight of young people, an aging population (the average age of the farmer in the Alentejo is 68!), small ventures that are not followed up and eventually shut down, resulting in the extinction of small rural villages, such as our village of Santa Cruz. Within a generation, that village changed from a thriving village with restaurants, cafes, a large regional bakery and a market, to a corner of quiet decline. There is now exactly one cafe still open (sometimes, if the owner feels like it).
Faced with this reality, Hans and Sunamita have made it their mission to initiate a change, which hopefully can set an example for the region, to build dialogues and initiate solutions to these challenges that do not only affect the countryside of the Alentejo, but also occur in many other, (warm) poor parts of Europe. Qxote thus aims to promote sustainable knowledge exchange by building partnerships in education, research and development projects, combined with training and internship activities. Especially between the Netherlands (a lot of experience with water management, but little experience with drought and heat) and Portugal (exactly the other way around), and other dry areas within Europe. As a result, knowledge is gained with more sustainable and innovative technologies (initially related to agriculture, climate effects, etc.), activities are developed, and young people are tempted to come to this region (for example to do their internships or research).
It is good to report here that - on the one hand because the possibilities present themselves, on the other hand because it also serves as a financial support for the above plans - other activities are also offered in parallel. This concerns self-developed, open training courses for corporate clients, offering professional retreats and individual business coaching, hosting training courses for third parties and renting out facilities to private individuals via platforms such as AirBNB and Booking.com. The order of things is here:
- First organizing activities and offering accommodation in the context of our mission, so for example internships and research for students (collaborating with schools, universities, organisations from The Netherlands and Portugal to start with))
- Then organizing and planning your own open training courses, retreats, business coaching and housing training for third parties (B2B)
- In the 'quiet' holiday periods, it is then obvious to rent out the facilities to private individuals (B2C)
All these activities are already taking place and the first partnerships have already been established.
Inspired by the rich and diverse backgrounds of our own cultures, in line with our personal and professional experiences, enhanced by Portugal itself and the beautiful yet challenging Alentejo, Hans and Sunamita founded QXote (pronounced: 'kiesjot') in June 2021. With this company we are building our location for research and knowledge exchange on sustainable development, and we are fighting dehydration, aging and impoverishment on our property and in the region.
Qxote thus aims to promote sustainable knowledge exchange by building partnerships in education, research and development projects, combined with retreats, training and internship activities.
Monte dos Três Moinhos (the hill with the three mills) is an old farm (quinta) where grain was grown and milled, and where a bakery was housed in the past. The estate is 9 hectares (90,000 m2) and located in the Alentejo, the rural, agricultural south of Portugal.
Qxote is the name of our company and is located at Monte dos Três Moinhos. QXote offers various professional services. The estate has a lot to offer already:
- The 100 year old quinta in original, but very good condition. At the moment, 1 to a maximum of 10 people can be accommodated. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, two kitchens, two large work, meeting and dining areas, living room, terrace with BBQ and outdoor kitchen and direct access to the pool. The house is connected to the water mains, the electricity network and sewerage. In addition, people can now also be accommodated in one of the mills, and there is an extra toilet and shower on the site.
- A large saltwater swimming pool of 12 x 7 meters, next to the quinta
- Three traditional windmills, dating from 1753 (á la Don Quixote). No longer in use, but excellently maintained and in good condition (no ruins, as you often see in the area). The three windmills are unique and a landmark in the area.
- Three own water sources, which are equipped with pumps and water storage through cisterns. The water is used for irrigation and the swimming pool.
- Forests, fruit trees, olive trees (± 100), grapes, figs, grassland, pomegranates, pears, cork oaks; on a heavily damaged terrain.
- It borders the small village of Santa Cruz, municipality of Almodôvar, 5min drive from the N2, the impressive old road between Faro and Lisbon. Faro Airport is 70km away (± an hour's drive). One of the routes of the famous 'Carminho do Compostella' is located 100 meters from our estate.
The founders and owners are:
Sunamita Borges da Costa, Brazilian
- Master's degree in Sustainable Development
- PhD in Geography and Innovation
- Currently combines her work for QXote as a postdoc researcher at the Federal University of Pernambuco - Brazil. Was previously Strategic Partnership manager for the university and member of the Innovation Network
- Co-founded Qxote LDA, aims to stimulate local and international knowledge exchange on Monte dos Três Moinhos
Hans Lodders, Dutch
- Master's degree in Media and Innovation
- Independent entrepreneur since 2004, with experience in more than 50 projects in the Netherlands, especially around setting up new services, platforms and organizations, often in a triple helix context focussing on knowledge development and -exchange
- Co-founded Qxote LDA, aims to facilitate groups and knowledge sharing on the Monte dos Três Moinhos
As of October 17, 2022, Senhor Jorge Conceiçao is our first full time employmee.
Sr Jorge is the neighbor of Hans and Sunamita, was born and raised in the region and is a handyman. He lived and worked in London for 20 years but recently returned to Santa Cruz. Because of his knowledge, experiences and network, Senhor Jorge is invaluable to QXote, helping with all kinds of chores that have to be done on the large site, but also when guests come. This is also the first step to bring some employment back into the region!
Past investments over since 2018 (180K)
The required investment
We are looking for an investment of EUR 250,000, which can be in the form of a loan or in shares (or a gift). The investments are mainly intended to structurally bring the infrastructure and facilities on the estate in order (capacity building). This makes us more attractive for various groups, and we can also accommodate medium-sized groups without any problems. The maximum capacity we strive for is to be able to accommodate up to ± 30 to 40 people. Currently, that number is 10, mainly in the old farm ('quinta') located on the estate. We want to be able to offer extra facilities, especially outside the quinta.
In addition to attractive housing, the investments are also intended to further strengthen the water and electricity infrastructure on the estate, and the construction of roads, paths, lighting and maintenance and landscaping. All this will better equip the estate to accommodate groups in a comfortable and tidy manner, and therefore also contribute to a good occupancy. The capacity and infrastructure are preconditions for carrying out research projects and organizing knowledge exchange on a larger and longer-term scale.
Sales are already generated from the following activities:
- Since March 2022: Organizing own open training courses and business coaching (turnover ± 4,500)
- Since April 2022: Hosting students (turnover ± 1,000.-)
- Since August 2022: AirBNB, private rental (turnover ± 1,800)
- Since October 2022: Hosting training courses from third parties (turnover ± 800,-)
The turnover totaled several thousand euros in the past six months.
A timeline for the investments is not fixed, because many activities will take place in parallel (and sometimes also continuously). The scaling up of the accommodation should ideally be completed before 1 July 2023. From that moment on we will receive larger groups (students). Step 1 will therefore be to apply for the necessary permits. This has, of course, already been initiated.
No further financing rounds are planned. In the coming year, however, there will be registrations for various European and national and regional subsidies. These will mainly be used for project-related financing, and less for investments in infrastructure. The upgrade of infrastructure and capacity building are mainly preconditions for being able to conduct research and other projects for knowledge development.
What does an investor get from us
An investor can get the following back (in consultation):
- His or her contribution helps to realize knowledge exchange between the Netherlands and Portugal (and other countries) in the field of sustainable development. He or she literally contributes to a better world, not only here on and around our estate, but also wider in the region and with stakeholders in the Netherlands.
- An investor can use the location for their own strategic sessions, or as a residence for or with their own relations
- An investor will - if desired - be mentioned in our communications, both physically on the site and in online communications. Naming accommodations or facilities is possible (for example the mill, a road, etc)
- An investor can get a share in olive and fruit trees, and in this way get her own limoncello or olive oil from our land
- An investor can receive a percentage of the profit from the revenue from the facilities
Contribute to a beautiful location for knowledge exchange for a better and more sustainable world
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By supporting this project, you support the following SDG goals:
- quality education