Honoring Business Leadership


Kai Smith is a small business owner and entrepreneur based in Falmouth, Maine. In 2012 Kai co-founded Buoy Local, a buy-local gift card platform for local businesses throughout Maine. The program offers a single, “open loop” gift card that enables consumers to buy locally from their favorite independent businesses. The program was purchased by Bangor Savings Bank in 2016 and is active at hundreds of businesses across the state.

In 2017, Kai founded Maine Coasters & Bio-Boards, a similarly innovative, mission-driven business. With a goal of connecting Maine’s historic pulp and paper industry to the booming growth of the craft beer market, Maine Coasters & Bio-Boards plans to manufacture biodegradable and sustainable beverage coasters and bio-based packaging, which incorporates unique materials such as spent grain from breweries. The company intends to service companies large and small, within the beer, food, and retail sectors in Maine as well as internationally.

“I am thrilled to receive the Business Leadership Award from the Environmental Health Strategy Center,” says Kai. “Receiving this award demonstrates that unique concepts, and products, which promote social, and environmental goals, can lead to successful business opportunities and markets for growth.”

The Business Leadership Award recognizes a business whose actions demonstrate sustainable, innovative business practices that set a precedent for businesses and communities to follow in supporting the health of individuals, families, the public, and the planet.