- Jacobe, Patagonia Bee Products
My name is Jacob Perry, and I’m from Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I currently operate my startup, Patagonia Bee Products. I started this company as a way of pursuing my belief that I can do good for the world and also make a profit. The journey that led me here wound through social service and community development work as far away as Kosovo and as near as my hometown. When seeking professional opportunities throughout my life, I’ve followed my heart rather than a lucrative career path, and this has allowed me to live faithfully within my integrity no matter what job I took. For me, it’s always been more important to be engaged in something that both fulfills me personally and creates lasting change for others. Therefore, I did what many young idealistic change makers do - I worked for nonprofits. However, I quickly began feeling like my impact was minimal, my work was leaving people more dependent on charity, and nonprofits generally existed to provide jobs to “do gooders” rather than fix the problems they claimed to address.
This feeling sparked a profound change in my belief about how I could best contribute to meaningful change, and I decided to explore social entrepreneurialism as a vehicle for creating this change. I based this decision on a couple beliefs:
There are people all over the world with specific skillsets.
What prevents many of these people from earning dignified incomes is poor access to markets that adequately value their products. Thus, if I could help small producers access higher-paying markets, I can pay these producers higher wages and offer novel and ethically-sourced products to consumers.
Such was the idea for Patagonia Bee Products, a company I started to connect with beekeepers in Patagonia, Chile, and provide single-origin honey to consumers in the United States. I visit the beekeepers I source honey from, stay in their homes and meet their families, and even help them harvest their honey. The time I spend getting to know my beekeepers builds into my supply chain the human element so often missing from global capitalism. Not only do I have personal bonds with my beekeepers, but I pass on this personal touch to my consumers with honey that preserves unique characteristics of a specific harvest by an individual beekeeper. And our consumers can also feel good that their purchase supports beekeepers receiving above fair-trade prices for their honey.
Starting Patagonia Bee Products would have been much more difficult without the help of the Kiva U.S. loan I received. Having worked exclusively in non-profits before starting this company, I had very little jumpstart capital, so the Kiva U.S. loan was a tremendous boost to make a larger initial purchase of honey. An unexpected benefit of the Kiva U.S. loan was that it reinforced the bonds in my existing network, and it also connected me to people all over the world who support my mission. I was hesitant to ask friends and family for money, even as a loan, but doing so through the Kiva U.S. loan actually connected me more deeply to my social network and boosted my confidence in what I’m doing. This is why I’m a big believer in the Kiva U.S. loan program and encourage small entrepreneurs to take advantage of the opportunity to participate it in.
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