When Ben Cohen turned his store-front ice cream venture into a $300 million ice cream empire, with childhood friend Jerry Greenfield, he became one of the most famously unconventional entrepreneurs in the history of business. With social responsibility and creative management at the heart of the project, the pair’s radical approach has been admired and emulated across the world.
In 1977 two childhood friends, both slightly lost professionally, came together to fulfil a dream – building a business around their common love – ice cream. After a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making, they opened their first shop in Vermont.
Partly due to the rich and indulgent quantities of ingredients, and flavoursome locally sourced cream and milk used, there were soon queues outside their door. Ben suffers with anosmia, so his loss of smell and almost total disintegration of his taste buds meant the pair added large chunks of tasty treats to the ice-cream in order to satisfy Ben’s need for texture in food.
Before they knew it, Ben and Jerry’s was the talk of Vermont, sponsoring festivals; delighting the public with free cone days and growing unstoppably into the household brand we know today. They continually donate 7.5 percent of pre-tax profits to non-profit organizations and charitable foundations.
The pair created a guidebook to emulating their business, a successful model for the modern and socially responsible business, this book quickly became a bestseller and led them to be awarded the Corporate Giving Award in 1988.
Named U.S. Small Business Persons of the Year in 1988, in a White House ceremony hosted by President Reagan, Ben and Jerry’s are a tribute to America's entrepreneurial spirit. In 200 he was honoured by the New York Open Center for his “leadership in pioneering socially responsible business”
Ben resigned from his role as CEO in 1996, but remains on the advisory board.
Socially active and a vocal supporter of Democratic candidates, in 2016 Ben individually brought out a limited flavour of ice-cream called ‘Bernie’s Yearning’ under the brand of Ben’s Best in order to illustrate his support for the candidate Bernie Sanders. Ben has also worked on campaigns such as Stamp Stampede, Move to Amend and Democracy Awakening amongst others.
A social activist on a mission to make the world a better place through political campaigns and social causes, Ben is a brilliant keynote speaker, successful entrepreneur and inspiring campaigner.
Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc