It was concern for Hawaii’s environment, economy and farming system that inspired Brett Jacobson to launch Hawaiian Ola, a maker of healthy beverages, in 2012.
Jacobson, a farmer who previously ran a biofuel company, wanted to start a business that could help Hawaii’s struggling farmers—the average farmer in makes about $15,000 a year, according to the company. So he developed a line of value-added juices and teas that use Hawaii’s abundant resources and encourage organic farming by providing local farmers with a reliable buyer for their crops.
“Land is our most precious and limited resource here, and you have to be active to protect farmland,” says Dabney Gough, marketing lead at Hawaiian Ola, which is among a growing community of B Corps in Hawaii. “The idea was to develop products that use organic, locally grown ingredients to create sustainable support for protecting organic farmland.”
By giving farmers an equitable market, and then turning the crops into healthful, value-added products for consumers, Hawaiian Ola encourages more producers to grow organic food for both local and off-island markets.
Jacobsen and his team have grown the Captain Cook, Hawaii-based company into a $7 million business. And they have turned to crowdfunding to help fuel that growth.
Hawaiian Ola’s main line of drinks is based on Noni, an indigenous fruit that has been used as medicine for centuries because of its noted health-giving properties. The noni drinks are blended with Hawaiian-grown crops such as ginger, pineapples and honey.
There’s also a line of ready-to-drink coffee leaf teas. “The use of the coffee leaf takes our mission on step further, because it is typically a coffee farmer’s waste product — they are harvested during the regular pruning of mature coffee trees,” says Gough. That creates added value for farmers and makes their operations more financially sustainable.
Today, Hawaiian Ola products have at least 50% locally grown ingredients. But by 2020, the company’s goal is to source 100% of its ingredients from organic Hawaiian farms. In addition, it hopes to create demand for 1,000 acres of organic Hawaiian farmland and bring $2 million in new annual agricultural income to more than 60 small Hawaiian farms.[…]
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