2015 Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Deborah Schimberg

Deborah Schimberg

Any woman who serves as majority owner of a small business, who developed a growing business, who has a three-year track record of success in revenues and profits, who has increased job creation, who has an innovative product or service, and who has demonstrated potential for future growth may be nominated for the Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Award.

When Deborah Schimberg graduated from Brown University, she started her path as a serial entrepreneur with deep roots in social enterprise. She certainly never imagined that she would be featured on the pages of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, The Wall Street Journal, and US Weekly, or that one day her work would be the talk of the town amongst the likes of Martha Stewart, Rachael Ray, and the hosts of The View.

Schimberg began her career by starting the Southside Community Land Trust, a non-profit urban environmental organization in Providence, before founding the International Charter School in Pawtucket. It wasn’t until a visit to the rainforests of Guatemala that she found her true calling. During her time in Guatemala, Schimberg learned about the chicle–the tree sap from which all chewing gum is made.

With her interest immediately sparked, Schimberg combined her entrepreneurial skills with her love of social enterprise, and opened Verve Inc. in 1995. Verve produces Glee Gum, an all-natural chewing gum that does not include the petro-chemical components found in most mainstream gums.

With Glee Gum’s success continuing to grow, Verve added Make Your Own Candy Kits for children. These educational kits taught children how to make their own candy using only natural ingredients, teaching kids the joys of making candy along with the responsibilities of being eco-friendly.

Over the past 20 years, Glee Gum’s popularity has continued to soar, and is now the number one natural chewing gum on the market. It is available in stores locally, such as Dave’s Marketplace, to nationally in Whole Foods, as well as internationally in Canada, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Verve continually strives to meet its two main objectives: profitability and social benefit. Schimberg and her employees are regular participants in local community activities in Providence, helping revive different parts of the city. Deb has also started a scholarship program in conjunction with the Mayan Intercultural University of Quintana Roo. This program takes students from the areas where the chicle is produced and farmed, and gives them an opportunity at higher education.

For her demonstrated success as a woman-owned entrepreneur, the U.S. Small Business Administration is honored to present the 2015 Rhode Island Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year Award to Deborah Schimberg, Founder and CEO of Verve Inc.in Providence.

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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