We are honoured to have Ernst & Young name Paul Whitney and Elizabeth Connell as nominees for Entrepreneur of the Year. This award is true industry recognition of our hard work in the social enterprise sphere.
We have Startup Canada to thank for this incredible opportunity that allowed us to meet and be exposed to a group of incredible forward thinking entrepreneurs. We participated in the Demo Day Pitch and managed to woo the crowd and the judges. We were named the winners of the day! Check out Startup Canada as an invaluable resource for entrepreneurship in Canada.
For years, the 6000 independent beekeepers and Forest Fruits have been unable to obtain Fair Trade recognition. Certification requires a producer-owned organization. This does not exist in a 12,000 sq km forest with no roads or communication. The Fair Trade Federation recognized Dan’s work, the beekeepers accomplishments and our innovative approach to selling their products. They invited us to become members in 2014. Fair Trade is the soul of our Project and those principles continue to shape our core values.
During the past 10 years, EWB Canada has provided the Forest Fruits facilities in Zambia with young, skilled engineers seeking solutions to difficult problems. Their knowledge has helped resolve some of the technical and mechanical challenges enterprises in developing economies face every day. When EWB heard about our Project’s initiatives here in Canada, they named us ‘Social Change Entrepreneurs’ and started opening doors. EWB is the muscle behind our machine.
B (Benefit) Corporations are the newest, fastest growing sector of ethical business enterprises. With the motto ‘Be The Change’, B Corps create business for the greater good. We teach sustainability, entrepreneurship and empowerment. Being a B Corp enshrines it in our corporate DNA.
Every enterprise needs capital to operate, especially Start-ups. When the reality of requiring financing for regular 20 tonne shipments of honey from Africa became apparent… BDC was there. Also a B Corp, they understood the value of entrepreneurial vision when combined with a strong business model. BDC made a capital investment in our ethical vision.
We’ve had support from an astonishing group of passionate and dedicated women from our very beginnings. Grandmother to Grandmother groups in the Ottawa Valley listened to our story and began fundraising with our honey to support their favourite cause – Turning the Tide of AIDS in African with the Stephen Lewis Foundation. One Grandmother, clearly a connoisseur, gave us our touchstone phrase, ‘Your honey is the single malt whisky of honey!’ The Grandmothers are the wind beneath our wings.
Our first education fundraiser was in 2013 at The Stewart School in Perth, Ontario. Two dozen students from their Student’s Council, all keenly interested in social justice, heard about our Project and decided to hold a fundraiser for their project in Africa. They sold 28 cases of honey in 4 weeks to friends and family. Their 12 year old President went on local radio and talked about Africa, bees, honey and changing the world. Today we have reps talking to schools across the country. We’re happy to have found a permanent home in schools.