Congratulations to Ariana Lee-Newman, our 2018 Professional Woman of the Year.
BIJA is a social enterprise that believes that if we invest in women they will reinvest in their families and communities. By working directly with women-owned co-ops, we create real relationships with the women and pay them directly. This ensures greater economic opportunities to help their families and communities. Ariana did her undergraduate work at Montana State University graduating with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. Graduating from the Honors Program and Named the Political Science Department’s Most Outstanding Graduate her plan was to pursue a Law Degree in Human Rights. Her path took a twist and became interested in the power of products to create positive change. She was lucky to get an entry level marketing job at Flora, a Natural Products Company in Lynden, WA while pursuing an MBA at the evening professional program at WWU. In her time at Flora she was fortunate enough to gain experience running campaigns, managing reps and lines of products under the Flora umbrella. Her experience led her to Barlean’s where she spent a majority of time as the Brand Manager. 2 years ago, she joined her husband to continue to develop BIJA, a direct trade organic chocolate company, based in Bellingham WA. Bija works with three women owned cooperatives in two countries (Dominican Republic and Peru) providing organic certification and community development. So far BIJA has partnered with over 75 women directly. In Bellingham BIJA has partnered with organizations like Girls on the Run, Lydia Place and others to support women and girls, conducive to the mission of BIJA. BIJA chocolate can be found all over Bellingham so we are often found doing art walks, supporting fundraisers and community celebrations for Haggen, The Community Food Co-ops, The Greenhouse, Paper Dream, Elizabeth Station, Whole Foods and others.