The kid’s rice. Maybe you have seen the blue packaged “kids’ rice.” If you are anything like me, carefully examine every inch of this outstanding package. You see kids and ask, “why kids?” You see it’s blue and think this blue is a nice color to it. Overall, you might say this a nice product, well rice is rice anyways as you head out to the counter. That’s just me. When comes to shopping you might be more meticulous, or not so meticulous. But then the burning question would remain right, what’s the back story of this rather peculiar package?
This week we decided to talk a little about ‘branding’ and what gave rise to this fundraising effort here at B.C.E and products like the “kids’ rice”. But first of all a quick definition of the term branding and what it means at B.C.E. So the next time you hear this jargon thrown about, you’re in the mix.
A quick search in Google revealed to me that what we term branding here at B.C.E, is somewhat like what the majority of people out there would take branding to mean. In the definition I found, it said branding means “the promotion of a particular product or company employing advertising and distinctive design.”
In the B.C.E terms, it is not only one company, but also we and the company joined together. In some cases, not just one product. the products don’t necessarily carry a ‘distinctive design’.So branding then is typically a partnership with a company wherein most cases place our logo or something that identifies the product as part of the designated branding or partnership. For example, the 2 pounds circle R kids rice is now brandished with our harvest for kids logo and features children in the package identifying the branding initiative and labeled as “Kid’s Rice”. Most of our branding partners are making moves towards having the package feature some sort of visual mark to identify that is part of that branding agreement. This might not be feasible to some as It would mean changing their machinery that produces the labels which are quite costly. (at least not immediately) But in most cases that is the intent of both parties to have some visual identity to represent this initiative. The agreement thereafter in layman’s terms is this: a percentage from the profits of the particular product(s) go to support the ministry at B.C.E while we promote that package, and secondarily the company that manufactures or distributes the product is marked as a company conscious of the work that B.C.E does, and a supporter of it. This essentially what branding is, and what it does to support the work and ministry at B.C.E.
So now that we know a little about what branding means to us, we can now jump in talking about its history.
In around 2012 the harvest for kids project started. During this time we had an initial crop of about 20 acres of rice that was to be sold to Circle R as part of the project. A farmer and shareholder in the company came up with the early idea of the branding partnership with the company(based on the definition above). He was fully invested in this vision and idea of branding, but it wouldn’t all play out fine and dandy, as there would be some work to get the agreement of all of the company shareholders. It seemed a bit risky to have a commercial force in Belize be fully associated with a non-profit Christian organization they reasoned. Also, it would be breaking ground in the world of industry and social causes or rather Christian causes, the first of its kind in Belize, I imagine. Despite the hesitation of the rest of the company, the C.E.O, and this one farmer was unwavering in seeing this partnership come to fruition saying even that their work they have is their “Mission field” and they ought to make the most and give back to country and children of Belize, not be doing business only for lucrative ends.
Eventually, the reluctant shareholders agreed, and the first rice packaged under the newly formed partnership featured the harvest kids logo in 2016. There would be some rebranding during the next years to come until it features the logo, children, a bible verse and the package was distinct from the rest of their products, thus sealing our newly formed partnership with Circle R and the start of the branding campaign as a mean of raising funds and creating awareness of the work being done here at B.C.E.
Soon after another major company in Belize decided to join in the fun. Caribbean Chicken sometime after the stabilization in the partnership with Circle R, the leadership decided to brand with us likewise. Alexander our director, had prepared his presentation portfolio for about a month. But according to him, it was thrown out the window, as the C.E.O of the company had already decided to take on the challenge to brand the product which was their bestseller: the chicken pieces package. They already had heard of the good things being done at B.C.E and decided to also invest in this vision.
Next came Mennonite fresh cheese a dairy products producer from the traditional Mennonite community of Shipyard. He wasn’t as big a producer as those big companies we mentioned earlier, yet he decided that all his seven products would be part of the branding initiative. Shortly after came our partnership with Reimers feed mill. They began distributing Ralston cereal here in Belize and designated this product to be part of our branding. Just in time to promote and reveal all our branding partnerships at the Spanish Lookout Business Expo of 2020.
Our new partnership with country foods saw the distribution of a new package of 18 eggs tray hit the market. The manager at country foods from a couple of years ago, wanting to join forces in the branding campaign for a while and also eager to release this new form of unique packaging that contains 18 eggs instead of the regular packages on the market. From the feedback garnered so far people are responding well to the new partnership by purchasing the product especially since it is a good deal (you get two eggs for free). While the sale of this product was planned to be only for about a month, we are praying to be able to do this branding campaign every year since it has been a success so far.
While there is more detail and definitely a strenuous process for us to acquire to form these relationships with these companies and individuals, they all have agreed to and have the same goal in mind, regardless of the amount of their contribution or scope of their work. They all want to see Belize change Belize and thus joined efforts with us.
I sat down with Alexander who led the idea of branding and continues to cast his vision to many other companies. We talked about how branding benefits both parties and why go through the effort of it. We discussed that branding can never fully fund the work here at B.C.E. So then there must be another outcome that makes it worthwhile. He claims that In a country that has limited resources and people, it allows everybody in Belize to invest in a larger vision like the one here at B.C.E. To become part of it and share that vision with others by simply choosing to buy this product- that they purchase regularly anyways-versus the rest, but now choosing to support the B.C.E through this medium. This allows these people who purchase to be proud that they support the work B.C.E is doing by purchasing the product, who might not otherwise be able to outright give a financial donation to B.C.E. There are parents of children who attend our partnered clubs decide to purchase one of these branded items because they know the impact of the mission on their children. It is a commitment to everyone involved (companies, B.C.E, consumers) to continue the kingdom-building in Belize through something that might seem as trivial as a label or a product you buy anyways, but immensely profound when you consider what it supports. Our vision is to acquire 20 branding partners to continue the work branding does here in Belize. As we pray that work continues you can help us by simply buying the product or come see the great work the branding supports. And in doing so also becoming part of the vision to see Belize change Belize through this branding process.