So you think you want my Job?

When it comes to serving the best bowl of Acai berries, Cinthya is willing to run the extra mile... into the Amazon rainforest.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
When it comes to serving the best bowl of Acai berries, Cinthya is willing to run the extra mile... into the Amazon rainforest.
NAME Cinthya Sayuri JOB Founder of Selva Foods
NAME Cinthya Sayuri JOB Founder of Selva Foods
Amazonian roots

“I’m from Brazil and I came to Singapore last year to start Selva Foods with my boyfriend. He’s Singaporean; we met in China three years ago before he moved to Brazil for work. When he was there, he tried Acai berries for the first time and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so good.’

We believed it would be something Singaporeans would appreciate too and decided to bring them over. We initially tried to bring in existing brands of Acai berries, but it didn’t suit consumers here. The brands available in Brazil mix a lot of water, sugar and syrup into their products. At the end of the day, consumers were not getting the benefi ts of the berries. So we decided to go all the way to the Amazon rainforest to search for a source we could trust.

Acai has always been growing wild in the Amazon rainforest. The indigenous people search for Acai palm trees, climb them and pick the berries. Acai palm trees can grow to more than 20m tall, so it takes a long time for them to do that. I tried climbing the tree when I was there and it was really hard!

Branching out

Right now, we’ve been selling Acai berries from the Amazon rainforest to food outlets and individuals. Acai berries are still relatively unknown here, so we’ve been trying to educate people about them. We go to fitness events and farmers’ markets, and we talk to people. We let them sample the berries and tell them more about the health benefi ts so they start to get more informed about the fruit. The idea of having a brick and mortar store is not really part of the plan right now, as it would require us to be fully dedicated to the shop. Instead, the way we’re doing things now allows us to better reach our target market.

Bearing fruit

The most challenging part of my job is to try and pull this business off with my partner. Sometimes, we just can’t handle each other. [Laughs] It’s crazy, but I think it has also been helping us to grow a lot as a couple and as individuals. I think when you work together with a person you want to share your life with, it’s important to not lose your individuality. At the same time, I am thankful for being able to be in this with him because I don’t think everybody has the chance to build something like this with someone who means so much to them.

The company is run by just the two of us, but our friends always help us out. They give us advice, share with us their knowledge, and they’re super hands-on too! Whenever we have events to do, we give them a call. They come and help us scoop Acai, talk to people and are really great ambassadors.

We really want to turn this into something big. We’re starting in Singapore because it’s a great hub for business and my partner already has his network of friends, which makes things easier. Step two is to spread our arms throughout the region and across Asia.

At the end of the day, it’s always about perspective. You can choose to complain, but it takes patience and persistence to see things grow. I choose to see this as an immense opportunity to exchange experiences and share the good things that come across our way. We have met incredible people along the way and experienced challenges that have helped us grow so much. It’s been a crazy journey but I know we will make it!”


2013 Graduated from university in Brazil

2014 Went to the Amazon Forest to source for Acai berries

Early 2015 Moved to Singapore

Late 2015 Started Selva Foods