A two-store chain of coffee shops in Nova Scotia has won the BDC Grand Prize for Innovation—which comes with a $100,000 cash prize.
This year, BDC asked young entrepreneurs to pitch an idea for an innovative business project, and then Canadians were asked to vote for a winner via social media channels.
The Grand Prize winner, Two If By Sea, is owned by 27-year-old Zane Kelsall. Kelsall plans to use the prize to open a roastery in Dartmouth, N.S., that aims to have an impact locally and globally by buying all of its coffee direct from farmers in Central and South America.
In direct trade buying, the roaster builds a long-term relationship with the grower, eliminating the middleman and ensuring a sustainable supply of consistently high-quality coffee. On a relationship-building trip in 2011, Zane traveled to Colombia and met several farmers. "I toured their land, met their families and got a first-hand taste of the challenges these communities face." He believes his business can help farmers address those challenges. "Our model provides the farmer with a higher return for a superior-quality crop."
The project also includes a front-of-house coffee lab where customers can participate in exclusive tastings and find out more about direct trade and coffee through seminars and courses. The Dartmouth location will also serve as a training site for the Halifax cafe.