The last 12 months have been busy for local startup BEEnevolent. You might say its founder Sade Shofidiya has been a busy bee. Yes, the pun is obviously intended.
Shofidiya, a MBA graduate of Savannah State University, has been participating in business pitch competitions and startup accelerator programs to learn as much as possible about growing BEEnevolent. In late 2021, she took second place at the Savannah State University Alumni Business Pitch Competition. In spring of 2022, she won third place at The Creative Coast’s annual FastPitch event. Along with 13 other startups, she was selected to participate in the Verizon Forward for Good Challenge through the Clinton Foundation. The Challenge, which wrapped in August of this year, encourages teams of current undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. institutions, and Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) alumni, to leverage 5G and other leading-edge technology to advance equity within the U.S. in CGI U’s five focus areas. The five areas of focus are education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health. Shofidiya and all of the participating startups received coaching and mentorship through the program.
Most recently, Shofidiya took first place at the September 15th Startup Runway Showcase, a pitch event for female and minority owned Startups in Atlanta. She competed against roughly 30 other women from diverse industries to win a $10,000 grant for BEEnevolent.
So you must be wondering, “What does BEEnevolent do?”
The startup designs and sells naturalistic high-tech beehives that operate with minimal intervention or need for high levels of skill and experience and offers an app for beekeeping and environmental justice. BEEnevolent refers to itself as a “hub for beeks.” Not only do they offer technological tools, but they offer beekeeping education, news, support, and community for those new to the industry. Their virtual membership portal, the BEEnevolent Beezness BEE-IP Program, offers monthly and annual memberships for commercial beekeepers seeking guidance and a support system amongst other beekeeping entrepreneurs.
Why focus a startup around beekeeping? If you haven’t heard, bees have a major impact on our environment and food security. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats, affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, plus many plant-derived medicines. Three out of four crops across the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.” Furthermore, 40% of invertebrate pollinators such as bees and butterflies are threatened to go extinct.
Shofidiya came upon the idea for BEEnevolent after founding a local non-profit called Foster Beelief. The organization is a 501(c)3 that works to promote sustainability through the education of the at risk honeybee population. Extensions of the organization’s mission are to increase STEM interests in minority students, increase the progression and research in all Historically Black Colleges and Universities degree programs, build stronger industry and community partnerships, and increase citizen involvement in communities.
“One of my mentors, the President of the Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association, tasked me with creating a simple way to obtain a composite score of a hive. Through that research and discovery, I began to ideate technological solutions, and that’s really how BEEnevolent started,” explains Shofidiya.
She says her next steps are to continue working with BEEnevolent customers collaboratively to iterate her technologies and to foster more key partnerships throughout the industry. Her long-term vision: “In the next 10 years, I’d love to merge with a large ag-tech firm that could really scale this globally,” says Shofidiya.
Sounds like BEEnevolent won’t slow down anytime soon.
Learn more about BEEnevolent at https://www.beenevolentapp.com/.