By Heather Cameron
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Pizza Hut Canada’s Equal Slice Program was established in 2021 to provide education, mentorship, and grants to small business owners from under-represented communities across Canada to help them succeed. Through the program, Pizza Hut says, $100,000 in grant money is awarded to five small business every year.
Chandler Honey recently became the recipient of a $20,000 grant from that very program.
“I was surprised and, more than anything, very honoured,” Tique Chandler, founder of Chandler Honey, said. “This was the first time I’d ever received a grant like this, and it means the world to me that a company like Pizza Hut is interested in investing in small Canadian businesses like mine.”
Chandler Honey is a collection of naturally infused organic raw honey, using whole ingredients such as lemon zest and vanilla beans, to make unique flavours including Crème Brûlée and Lemon and Ginger.
“All of the honey is sourced from my parent’s bee farm, which is 40 minutes north of Taber in Scandia, Alberta where I grew up, and it’s lovingly hand-infused in Toronto,” Chandler said. “We have 100 per cent five-star reviews on our website – the light honey from southern Alberta is insanely good and the end-product is to die for.”
Chandler Honey, Pizza Hut says, was selected after a panel of experts selected by Pizza Hut and ICIC (Initiative for a Competitive Inner City) evaluated and selected recipients based on several factors, including impact to the local community, sustainable business model, business leadership, application of program learning and how the grant money will be used. 2023 grant recipients were notified earlier this summer, Pizza Hut says.
“Small business owners who participate in the Equal Slice Program are invited to apply for the grant upon completion of the program,” Pizza Hut said.
The 2023 Equal Slice Program is able to provide grants to small business owners thanks to support from Pizza Hut Canada and Yum’s Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, which commits $100 million USD over five years to tackle inequality.
“I feel very excited about the future of Chandler Honey and how we will be able to expand because of this grant. I was nervous presenting my pitch in front of the Pizza Hut executives, but having them validate my company and products with the grant gave me a lot of confidence,” Chandler said. “I’m determined to put the money to good use to keep growing, I have big things planned. A lot of the money has been used towards stocking up for a big holiday season, including investing in labour, jars, labels, spices, and photography, but I’m also putting some away for processing automation. We already have a big creaming machine, but investing in a honey pump to transfer honey into the creamer is our next big purchase. We aim to produce more infused honey more quickly – as well as keep ourselves less sticky in the process!”
“Since the launch of my business in 2020, I’ve been overwhelmed with the support from not only my hometown of Scandia, but also of the neighbouring communities of Brooks and Taber. I’m so proud to be Alberta born and raised, and I love bringing southern Alberta honey, which is the best in the world, in my opinion, all across Canada,” Chandler said. “Southern Alberta is truly a special part of the country – not only for its agriculture and bees, but for its lovely people.”