Beautiful Day received a Bronze Award at the 2015 reSET Impact Awards, an annual event that honors winners of the Impact Challenge and recognizes impactful, innovative and viable early-stage ventures and startups from all industries.
Innovation Destination: Hartford asked Impact Award winners about their companies and their experiences. Read our interview with Anne Dombrofski, Director of Strategic Partnerships, and watch a video to learn more about Beautiful Day and The Providence Granola Project.
IDH: How did the company develop its business concept?
DOMBROFSKI: While working at a refugee resettlement agency in Providence, RI, Founder Keith Cooper was becoming increasingly aware of the challenges for newly arrived refugees seeking work; both the critical need to secure a job and the consequences—not just financial, but also social and emotional, of not being able to do so. Also, there was not an easily accessible way for native-born Americans to engage in addressing these challenges and, in the process, to advance our collective welcome of refugee newcomers to our communities.
Keith and a friend started the Providence Granola Project (PGP) and set out to employ refugees by providing paid job training—and tell the broader community about refugee resettlement. In 2012, we formed Beautiful Day, the nonprofit that now owns and operates the PGP.
The PGP reinvests 100% of its sales revenue in the project. We offer a growing segment of ethically minded consumers the opportunity to purchase premium products that nourish their own health while providing a direct, local and tangible way to respond to the global refugee crisis.
IDH: Tell us about the company.
DOMBROFSKI: Beautiful Day builds on-ramps to employment for refugees by aligning customer demand for locally sourced artisanal food products with refugees’ need for culturally sensitive on-the-job training.
The PGP produces delicious, mostly organic, gourmet granola handmade by refugees. By learning to make and sell our products, refugees gain critical skills that prepare them for their first U.S. jobs.
IDH: How did you become involved in the reSET Impact Challenge?
DOMBROFSKI: Two years ago, I was working with a local refugee community-based organization and heard about the co-working space at reSET, so went with a friend to check it out. I’ve kept in touch with the reSET team since then and reconnected at the SEEED Summit in April.
When we saw that this year’s Impact Challenge was open to social enterprise ventures from across New England, the PGP decided to apply. As part of the process, we’ve made wonderful new connections and expanded our network of fellow social entrepreneurs.
IDH: Where do you see your company in the next three to five years?
DOMBROFSKI: By 2020, we’d like Providence Granola to be a household name in New England and we’d like to have replicated our granola production and refugee job training model in at least two other cities, with more than 100 refugees trained and entering the job market annually as a result of PGP and these ventures. More than 2,500 customers will be impacted—they will increase awareness of and connection to refugees through their purchases, and tons of high-quality, artisanal, refugee-made granola products will be consumed.
IDH: Any advice for entrepreneurs or startup business owners?
DOMBROFSKI: Pay attention when you feel like you’re about to make a decision out of fear. There’s almost always some important wisdom hiding in anything that makes you anxious or uncomfortable. It takes strength to get close enough to learn from these things. And the wisdom refugees bring is just to not give up.