Interview: Ryan Black, Social Entrepreneur, CEO, Co-Founder, SAMBAZON

Social entrepreneur Ryan Black is the CEO, and one of the co-founders, of SAMBAZON: the first - and now leading - purveyor of Certified Organic and Fair Trade Açaí. What is Acai? it's thought to be the most powerful superfood in the Amazon. Grown on the Açaí palm in the floodplains of the rainforest and wild harvested by hand, this nutritional powerhouse has long been a staple of indigenous diets. SAMBAZON makes superfruit packs for your smoothies, ready-to-eat bowls (if you haven’t had an Acai bowl, you’re missing out…), energy drinks, fresh juices, and more. You can find their products at major retailers like Costco, your favorite smoothie shop, or any one of their SAMBAZON locations (even at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina).

What’s different about SAMBAZON? Founded on Triple Bottom Line principles, their products are ethically sourced and hand-harvested by local farmers and feature Organic and Fair Trade certifications. Their vertical supply chain allows them to offer a “Palm to Palm” promise as they give back to the community that harvests their Açaí fruit and establish a direct connection between their farmers and you along the way.

Founded 23 years ago on a dream (thanks to a surf trip to Brazil) and a credit card, SAMBAZON is in another chapter of growth and awareness, but there are no plans to let up on the purpose behind their brand.

In my conversation with Ryan, we’ll talk about the early days, the progress they’ve made, the challenges they’ve faced, the things they’re still trying to tackle, and what it takes to sustain a sustainable business.

If, like Ryan, being a social entrepreneur sounds like the coolest job you can have, well, then you’ll want to dive in. He’s so passionate about the product, the people that make it, and the dream; that passion is infectious. Ryan and the SAMBAZON founders are what he calls 2nd gen pioneers in this space, so listen up… this is how you build on purpose, and KEEP that purpose for 20 years and beyond.

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

Here are some of the Key Takeaways you’ll appreciate:

  • Why social entrepreneurship is so dang cool
  • Why it’s important to keep your foot on the go (gas) pedal Embracing risk
  • Being persistent on purpose
  • The power of community
  • The importance of good mentors
  • What you get out of sharing best practices
  • Why your product has to be more than just “sustainable”
  • Creating an emotional bond with your customer
  • The potential - and benefits of - a triple bottom line business
  • Building value in your supply chain; How to be more than just a brand/product
  • Whatever role you’re in, you play a role
  • People want to do the right thing…give them the opportunity to do so
  • Squeezing the sustainability gap
  • Avoiding corner-cutting; keeping the long-run in mind
  • The power of like-minded stakeholders (avoiding compromises)
  • The evolution of sustainable business Some of the biggest challenges the company still faces (sustainability-wise)
  • How one company can influence an industry (hint: persistence)
  • And… of course, the benefits of Acai!

SDG Alignment: #1 No Poverty, #3 Good Health & Well Being, #4 Quality Education, #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth, #10 Reduced Inequalities, #11 Sustainable Cities & Communities, #12 Responsible Consumption and Production, #13 Climate Action, #15 Life on Land, #17 Partnerships for the Goals


Sustainability at SAMBAZON -


SAMBAZON Impact Report -

SAMBAZON Açaí Bowls Takes Flight at Charlotte Douglas International Airport -

Seeding Change: The Power of Conscious Commerce -

One Step Closer (OSC) -

Also: Be sure to check out our conversation with Theresa McKenney, Sustainability Director at NEMO-

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#sustainability #triplebottomline #socialentrepreneur #climate #businesswithpurpose #careers #foodandbeverage #keeplearning #CEO #leadership #sambazon #acai #nutrition #fairtrade #organic

Intro/Outro music by QubeSounds from Pixabay.

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