The town of Cabaceiras in northeast Brazil is famous across the nation for its handicrafts in goat leather. The town’s Arteza Leather Cooperative has helped to achieve and maintain such recognition.
The organization is under the leadership of Seventh-day Adventist church member Luís Eduardo Farias de Castro. The Adventist businessman is part of the fifth generation of his family in the goat leather business.
The Arteza Leather Cooperative contributes significantly to the town’s economic development by creating jobs, reducing migration to other places, and attracting tourists who want to get acquainted with the process of manufacturing leather goods.
With that in mind, Castro opened a “knowledge workshop” to teach the leather trade to teenagers in the area after school hours. Students must have permission from parents to participate, and they are paid according to what they manufacture, Castro said.
Castro is also Pathfinder Club director of the Alto da Boa Vista de Cabaceiras Adventist church. In that capacity, he has witnessed some of the financial challenges of many children and teenagers. “It was then that I had the idea of teaching them how to make a keychain to gain financial resources,” Castro shared. “I discovered many talents [among the youth] and invited some of them to learn how to work with other materials. One of those first teenagers has now been my right-hand man in the company for more than 20 years.”
The company manufactures thousands of products with leather and canvas each year. Among the goods are pants, bags, boots, and aprons.
The leather cooperative has 75 members and has active partnerships with dozens of artisans in the region. Castro says it is gratifying to know that it helps many residents of his town to stay there as they, at the same time, ensure the livelihood of many families through their craft.
Arteza alone has 35 employees, Castro reported. Eighty percent of them are Adventist church members.
The company has become a venue for preaching the gospel message, thanks to morning devotionals and weeks of prayer. Castro’s welcoming demeanor has brought several people to study the Bible and be baptized. One of them is a former employee who eventually opened his own leather craft business and has already led more than 20 of his own employees to baptism.
Edélcio Luduvice, national advisor of the Federation of Adventist Entrepreneurs, highlighted the important role of people such as Castro across Brazil. “The example of the Adventist entrepreneur from Cabaceiras shows that the true gospel of Christ transforms lives and gives dignity to people,” Luduvice said.
Castro shared that many of his customers want to know why the workshop is closed on Saturdays. He then takes the opportunity to talk about the importance of keeping the biblical Sabbath holy.
He shared the story of an employee who used to work in Rio de Janeiro on Saturdays. Now, Castro said, he has decided to rest on that day. “My business transcends professional expertise,” Castro said. “I have been talking about God and the Sabbath to my employees and customers. And in every piece I sell, I usually include a missionary book so people can know more about Jesus.”