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Founders of Nature's Path named as UVic's Distinguished Entrepreneurs

Arran and Ratana Stephens being honoured by University of Victoria
Arran and Ratana Stephens, founders of Richmond-based Nature's Path, have been named Distinguished Entrepreneurs by UVic's Gustavson School of Business. UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA

Arran and Ratana Stephens, owners of Richmond-based Nature’s Path, were early leaders in both the organic food business and adopting a triple-bottom-line ­philosophy, which aims to support people, the planet and profit.

The two, who are also longtime philanthropists in B.C. and internationally, are being honoured as the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business Distinguished Entrepreneurs of the Year.

Arran Stephens said their approach comes from teachings he was raised with on a Vancouver Island berry farm, where his father would tell him: “Always leave the earth better than you found it.”

The Stephens’ business ventures started in 1967, when Arran opened a vegetarian restaurant with a $1,500 loan and just $7 cash. In 1985, the couple founded Nature’s Path.

Today, the company is the largest independent, certified-organic breakfast and snack-food business in North America, UVic said in a statement.

“They have built a thriving enterprise while leading ­positive change in their industry and community. The Stephens have shown what can be ­accomplished with an unwavering focus on leading with values,” said a statement from the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business.

Still family-run, Nature’s Path has about 750 employees and supplies 150-plus products in 40 countries.

The Stephens, who will receive their award on Oct. 19 at a gala at the Victoria ­Conference Centre, received the Order of B.C. last year. Their personal and company charitable donations have exceeded $40 million in Canada and internationally, the organization’s website says.

Recipients of their donations include UVic, B.C. Children’s Hospital, the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, Vancouver General Hospital and the University of B.C.

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Past University of Victoria distinguished entrepreneurs

2021 — Anthony von Mandl, O.C., O.B.C. Founder and CEO of The Mark Anthony Group.

2020 — Jim Pattison. Chairman and CEO of The Jim Pattison Group.

2019 — Sue Paish, Q.C. CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster.

2018 — Stewart Butterfield. Co-founder and CEO of Slack.

2017 — Don Mattrick. Former president of Microsoft ­Interactive Entertainment ­Business.

2016 — Linda Hasenfratz. CEO of Linamar Corporation.

2015 — David Foster. Businessman, philanthropist and record producer.

2014 — Dennis Washington. Founder of The Washington Companies.

2013 — Brandt C. Louie, President and CEO of H.Y. Louie Co.

2012 — Dennis (Chip) Wilson, Founder of lululemon athletica.

2011 — JR Shaw. Founder of Shaw Communications.

2010 — Dr. Alex Campbell Sr. Co-founder of Thrifty Foods.

2009 — Sir Terence Matthews. Chair of Mitel Corporation and chair and founder of Wesley Clover.

2008 — Clive Beddoe. A founding shareholder in WestJet.

2007 — David Black. President of Black Press.

2006 — Gwyn Morgan CM. former president and CEO of EnCana Corp.

2005 — Dave Ritchie. Chair and former CEO of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc.

2004 — Inaugural recipient Jeff Mallett. Former president and COO of Yahoo!