Antigua, Guatemala, May 16, 2017– Pomona Impact has committed $250,000 to Organic Gum, LLC, producer of the only organic, biodegradable and sugar free gum sourced from the Petén region in Guatemala. The company plans to use the financing for further product development, to build its own manufacturing and fulfilment line, to expand distribution, and to launch its private label.
“This investment will generate compelling financial returns and measurable long-term impact by strengthening the chicle value chain in Guatemala and leveraging stellar distribution channels throughout the USA,” said Rich Ambrose, Managing Partner of Pomona Impact.
Organic Gum, LLC, sells organic and natural gum under its retail brand ‘WILD’ in several major US retail and grocery stores, including Whole Foods. There is no other company offering a truly comparable, sugar-free, organic gum. The company has its own retail brand and is responding to fast growing demand for organic gum base by selling part of its production to the other chewing gum producers.
The global chewing gum market is estimated to be $27 billion, with the US market accounting for approximately $6 billion. The chewing gum industry has seen little innovation in the last 30 years, making little to no effort to come up with more health-conscious alternatives. Organic Gum is leading the new wave with its healthier organic-based gum.
Organic Gum was founded by Nick Saidiner, James “Chip” Budde, and Kyle Ransford. Each co-founder brings considerable experience to the company. Nick and Chip met at Frito-Lay 20 years ago and are excited to leverage their expertise and vast networks to develop WILD Gum. Kyle has had a successful career developing new businesses, several of which are in the food and beverage space. Kyle’s strong operational know-how and experience scaling businesses perfectly compliment Chip and Nick’s networks and years working for a well known multi-national food company.
“We are extremely excited to begin a partnership with Pomona Impact and look forward to a very rewarding long-term relationship. Pomona’s investment of capital and its participation on our Board of Directors will have significant positive impact on our ability to grow the business and to continue to support economic development in Central America. Pomona has already demonstrated its ability to contribute material value by helping us rebuild our financial projections, raise an additional $100k with a third-party lender and co-develop a feasibility study around developing a Guatemalan production capability.” Chip Budde, Co-Founder of Organic Gum, LLC.
Pomona Impact is excited to support a company so well positioned to scale rapidly (and profitably) and drive meaningful impact in Guatemala. The region of the Petén from which the chicle is responsibly harvested is certified annually by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and the harvesters of the cooperative with which Organic Gum LLC works earn three times the average minimum wage in Guatemala.
Pomona will also provide technical assistance to Organic Gum in order to conduct a feasibility study on extending the value chain locally by developing a gum base production facility in Petén, creating more employment opportunities. The technical assistance will also strengthen safety standards for the harvesters and obtain additional certifications reflecting the ethical sourcing practices. Equally important to this quantifiable impact, Pomona sees attractive risk-adjusted returns with this investment.