From Heroes to Hives: Veteran-Owned Business is Connecting People with Pollinators
Military Veterans and honeybees may seem like an unlikely couple, but Veteran of 15 years, Vincent Sowa, founded Backed By Bees to inspire people to connect with nature, and to help protect the pollinators that support the world’s food supply: honeybees.
“Honey production is nature at work, and observing this process reminds us we are all intricately connected,” says Sowa.
“As a company backed by thousands of bees, we want to inspire people to connect with nature through products that they interact with on a daily basis,” he added. Backed by Bees brews honey-based sustainable alcohol and offers a variety of raw honey and whole local food that people drive far and wide for.
Sowa served in the Canadian Armed Forces for fifteen years – first in the regular force and then as a Naval Warfare Officer - before transitioning out of the military for his next phase in life. “I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I wanted to do it in a way that was risk averse,” explains Sowa, “so I did an MBA at The University of Toronto and then began working in the finance sector for seven years in different roles to gain corporate experience.” Looking for fulfillment outside of corporate occupations, Sowa left the bank in 2018 to pursue his passion for bringing more sustainable products to the market and deepening the public’s connection to the natural world through Backed by Bees.
Sowa credits the Canadian Armed Forces as a key contributor to his entrepreneurial success.
“The military gave me the leadership and project management skills I needed as an entrepreneur. But above all, the military taught me critical thinking and the ability to organize chaos, something I do every day with such a multifaceted company,” explains Sowa.
Located in Burlington, Ontario, the Backed By Bees building invites visitors to interact with two million honeybees onsite and witness the fascinating pollination process in the pollinator garden. The garden allows visitors to peek into the busy life of bees as they work together to produce raw honey and pollinate much of our food supply.
In 2019, Backed by Bees joined Prince’s Trust Canada’s BuyVeteranCA community, Canada’s premiere online directory dedicated to promoting businesses owned by members of the military and Veteran communities. “We were in the process of opening our business when we joined BuyVeteranCA. It was critical for building brand awareness and forming important relationships,” says Sowa. “The network BuyVeteranCA provides is important. It allows us to better support each other as Veterans and civilians, and it creates awareness that has resulted in people reaching out and sharing my company,” he added.
For other Veterans considering entrepreneurship, Sowa’s advice is “to be unafraid to fail and try again. No matter the stage or size of your company, you’re going to encounter things you haven’t before and that’s ok,” says Sowa.
To support Veterans in your area, visit BuyVeteran.ca. When you choose to Buy Veteran, you are choosing to support a community by buying locally.