Cultivating Connections within a Community

Golden Bees

Cultivating Connections within a Community

General Mills in Europe decided to try something different when forming a volunteer team to work with Golden Bees, an Ugandan company that produces honey, beeswax, and propolis (bee glue). The team was only comprised of General Mills employees based in Europe. And while there are many benefits to working on a cross-company, geographically diverse team that is the usual makeup of a PFS volunteer team, the Golden Bees volunteer team discovered many benefits to collaborating on a project together.

One of the first people to join the team was Carlota Gonzalo, an experienced PFS volunteer and quality ingredients manager based in Spain who specializes in commodities such as honey, cereals and edible oils. “The Golden Bees project was unlike any previous PFS project I had been involved with,” Carlota said. “Having a team of volunteers from General Mills - Europe allowed us to expedite the project onboarding phase and start work really quickly. Typically it takes some time to learn about the other corporate partners and their work styles, but we already understood one another. Plus, scheduling meetings was a lot easier since we were all on the same continent and not dealing with different time zones,” she continued. 

Within the Golden Bees project, there were two very different parts - designing a quality management system and mini quality control lab, and creating a computerized accounting system. Carlota focused on the quality management and lab, while other colleagues focused on the accounting system. Carlota, although familiar with quality management systems due to her background, was not familiar with the lab portion. “I love working globally and learning new things so I wasn’t afraid to get involved in a project where there was a portion I was unfamiliar with,” Carlota said. "I gained a lot from the Golden Bees project because I made new connections in the General Mills R&D and lab departments that I had not previously made, as well as gained a better understanding of what goes on during honey lab testing. I now use that new knowledge in my day job when I am communicating with honey suppliers. I’m able to do my own job better and also get to build a deeper relationship with my clients, who really appreciate the honey lab experience I’ve gained.” 

After the project ended, Carlota and her team received great feedback and heartfelt thanks from Golden Bees Founder Brian Mugisha. “We are grateful for the immense contribution you have extended to us. And to the entire PFS and General Mills staff, you are such a wonderful group of people and there is no way we can pay you back other than working towards improving Golden Bees to one day be a General Mills of Uganda!” 

Because of the General Mills Europe team’s recommendations, Golden Bees has enhanced their lab and increased the quality team’s capabilities. They are also using an inventory management tool built by General Mills volunteers. It’s a significant contribution to a company that supports 2200 local beekeepers annually and Carlota and the team went on to win the Global Volunteer Award, presented by the General Mills Foundation, for their involvement with PFS and the Golden Bees project.

General Mills
General Mills, the founding member of Partners in Food Solutions, is one of the world’s leading food companies, operating in more than 100 countries and headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Cargill
Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 150,000 people in 70 countries.
DSM
Royal DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials. By connecting its unique competences in Life Sciences and Materials Sciences DSM is driving economic prosperity, environmental progress and social advances to create sustainable value for all stakeholders.
Bühler
Bühler is a global leader in the field of process engineering, in particular production technologies and services for producing foods and manufacturing advanced materials. Bühler operates in over 140 countries and has a over 10,000 employees worldwide.
Hershey
The Hershey Company, headquartered in Hershey, PA, is a global confectionery leader known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks.
Ardent Mills
Ardent Mills is dedicated to helping our customers innovate and grow, with the industry’s broadest range of flours, mixes, blends and specialty products.