BVU, SAMBAZON Forge Strategic Partnership
Through a Strategic Partnership with Buena Vista University, SAMBAZON seeks to broaden educational opportunities for employees and their eligible family members.
Buena Vista University (BVU) and SAMBAZON have formed a Strategic Partnership, deepening their commitment to education and the communities they serve.
This partnership allows for employees of SAMBAZON, as well as eligible family members of full-time employees, to receive grant funding to lower the overall cost of education while enrolled in classes at BVU’s Storm Lake campus. Partner grant funding also lowers the cost per credit hour for students enrolled in BVU’s convenient online/hybrid undergraduate programs or the organizational leadership graduate program.
“With the Covid situation, there are a lot more people open to online education, so we’re hoping that with this Strategic Partnership with Buena Vista University, employees will take advantage of this opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree or work on a master’s education,” says SAMBAZON Vice President of Human Resources Denise Leat. “This is a great opportunity. We’re partnering with a private, nonprofit university, so it seems like a great synergy where we can help our employees together with BVU.”
“With the Covid situation, there are a lot more people open to online education, so we’re hoping that with this Strategic Partnership with Buena Vista University, employees will take advantage of this opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree or work on a master’s education.”
SAMBAZON Vice President of Human Resources Denise Leat
SAMBAZON—an acronym for Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon—makes and sells organic, non-GMO, and vegan açaí-based food and beverages, including açaí bites, frozen desserts, sorbet, ready-to-eat açaí bowls, energy drinks, fresh juices, and smoothie superfruit packs.
The company was founded in 2000 by Ryan Black, his brother, Jeremy, and friends Ed Nichols and Travis Baumgartner after Ryan and Ed experienced an açaí bowl during a surfing trip to Brazil the year prior. SAMBAZON has grown to include about 90 employees at its headquarters and Bowl Shop in Southern California, and about 600 employees in Brazil, where the business has two manufacturing plants. The açaí berries, which are harvested by local farmers, are processed, packaged, and frozen, then sold to grocery stores, airport and college campus food service providers, and restaurants throughout the United States and the world.
“Many of the indigenous people who harvest the açaí live in poverty and were taken advantage of by middlemen buying the fruit to sell it in cities in Brazil,” says Leat. “Ryan’s vision was to pay these family farmers fairly and partner with them in a way so they could earn a livable wage and farm sustainably not only to help their families, but to help save the rainforest, while bringing this amazing product to market in the U.S. and throughout the world. And, here we are 20 years later with more than $100 million in sales.”
SAMBAZON’s Fair Trade certification has helped to protect the Amazon Rainforest while positively impacting thousands of local growers. The company also has a commitment to invest a percentage of sales back into the Brazilian villages/communities and, as a result, has contributed more than $1 million to build healthcare centers, community centers, and schools.
“At Buena Vista University, we are committed to serving our communities,” says BVU Director of Strategic Partnerships Laura Todd. “It is exciting to establish a Strategic Partnership with SAMBAZON, a company that has experienced significant growth from a food startup to become a global leader in the industry. Through our partner grant funding, employees and their family members have the opportunity to build their careers while ultimately strengthening one another and our communities.”
For more information about BVU’s Strategic Partnerships and partner opportunities, please visit the BVU website at bvu.edu/strategic-partnerships or contact Strategic Partnerships at StrategicPartnerships@bvu.edu.