By Sabrine Navarro – Joel Bryce is putting money in poor African farmers’ pockets. The William Jewell grad has been making strides in agriculture and economic development since graduating in 2007. Bryce left Jewell with a Economics and Business Management degree with a specialization in finance. Since Jewell, Bryce has ventured on to the likes of the Federal Reserve Bank where he worked for two years before moving on to Harvard’s Business School to complete his MBA.
After receiving his MBA, Bryce worked for Deloitte Management and Consulting Company where he concentrated on economic development and social impact practices. Bryce describes his role at Deloitte as, “primarily advising companies, governments and foundations on agriculture growth areas.” From this, Bryce was able to gain the knowledge and experience he needed to look into launching his own business, seeking new opportunities within the same area.
During his time consulting at Deloitte, Bryce identified an opportunity regarding food products that have been sourced from small-scale farmers in poor areas of Africa. Bryce developed the idea of buying produce from farmers who are currently conducting subsistence farming, a self-sufficiency type of farming in which farmers consume roughly 60%-70% of what they grow. By buying and reselling the produce from these African farmers, Bryce looks to create consumer food brands to be sold in the United States and Western Europe, and appealing to a growing millennial consumer base. Currently Bryce is consulting in South Africa, building his investor base before launching the new company.
When asked what the most important aspect of his time at Jewell was, Bryce stated that it was the relationships he had with his professors that he valued the most. He gave credit to President Salee and Professor Kelli Schutte for writing recommendations that led to his acceptance at Harvard. He especially thanks Dr. Schutte for her help connecting him to a microfinance initiative in Mexico that ignited his passion for making a social impact in business.
Though having graduated almost 10 years ago, Bryce still has fond memories of his time at Jewell. When asked to pass on some advice to current students looking to venture in their own business after Jewell, Bryce tells students to take some time alone to think. “There’s a significant deficiency in independent thinking these days. We just regurgitate information.” He says that students should take time to think about the problems they are passionate about solving, and to really spend time thinking about solutions instead of researching what others are saying about those problems.