Backed by Burt’s Bees (at least for a little while)
by Jack Beuttell -- July 10th, 2013
re. social entrepreneurship, brand messaging, & honeybees
Just want to report on some cool news…
I recently learned I was selected as one of a handful of social entrepreneurs for Bull City Forward’s inaugural Forward Fellows program. The initiative is open to any social entrepreneur in the triangle region, and I’m so excited to share the opportunity with my close friend and fellow Duke MEM/MBA, Rachel Lichte, co-founder of The Clarity Project.
Over the course of the next year we will receive leadership and business training and be responsible for curating a community of social entrepreneurs in the triangle region. What’s more, my sponsor is Burt’s Bees, the socially and environmentally minded business founded in Maine and now headquartered at the northern edge of American Tobacco Campus. I can’t tell you how excited Dave Nicola (my business partner, Duke MBA 2013) and I are to have their support!
I recently stopped by to meet my sponsors, who run Burt’s social and environmental programs as well as its charitable foundation, to learn more about why they chose VentureFarming from the pool of applicants. Matt Kopac, Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager, explained to me that in the last several years Burt’s has undertaken a realignment of its business, marketing, and charitable messaging, with a focus on environmental and human health. Compared to only a couple of years ago, you now see this theme come out more prominently in each area of activity, which conveys a stronger brand identity for consumers and a stronger purpose for employees.
As you might imagine, Burt’s has a deep interest in honeybee health, especially in light of the honeybee colony collapse disorder affecting populations across the world. But saving the honeybees doesn’t resonate with every customer, especially the ones that are allergic to them! So, Burt’s has instead focused its message on human and environmental health, which emphasizes healthy natural ecology and therefore healthy honeybee populations. A central part of restoring ecological health, both for nature and for humans, is supporting sustainable agriculture programs like our business, VentureFarming (a for-profit incubator for beginning organic farmers). Burt’s was psyched when they read about our plans to create an integrated and holistic small-farm production model that would support pollinators of all kinds, including honeybees—while delivering healthy food to its customers.
Sweet like honey!