Last night, Kitsap Bank’s fifth annual edg3 Fund Live event took place at the Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton. Each year, the event features five finalist small businesses that compete against one another on to win $20,000.

The competition is meant to reward local entrepreneurs committed to growing the community economically, socially, and environmentally. The 2018 finalists were Kodama Farm and Food Forest in Chimacum, Compost Manufacturing Alliance in Port Orchard, HandiMaps in Tacoma, Wood Orginals in Bremerton, and Sequim Bee Farm in Port Angeles.

Sequim Bee Farm accepting the $20,000 edg3 FUND grand prize. Courtesy Kitsap Bank.

All of these small businesses have committed themselves in some way to a sustainable future, which they each expressed through a video commercial, a presentation, and a Q&A session with the judges.

While judges deliberated, we heard from keynote speaker Whitney Keyes, who spoke about the qualities of a social entrepreneur and highlighted several local businesses tackling social issues while making a profit.

Lisa Stirrett, who designed lovely glass awards for each of the five finalists, also spoke about her experience raising money for business loans for women in Burkina Faso.

The evening was capped with the announcement of the $5,000 Community edg3 Award, which went to semi-finalist Dragonfly Cinema, and the announcement of the winner of the $20,000 edg3 Fund Prize: Sequim Bee Farm.

“We employ 2.3 million (bees),” said Meg Depew, one of the owners of Sequim Bee Farm. “We’re a small family-run apiary and our mission is to protect and care for the bees, produce exceptional raw honey, and educate others about bees.”

Depew noted that, while the business is doing extremely well, the equipment they use — which hasn’t changed much in the past 80 years — can’t keep up with the efficient work of their bees. The award will help Depew and her husband update the equipment and run their business more efficiently.