“Our moringa provides a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids . ” So far, the slogan of Kuli Kuli, American supplier of moringa, a vegetable that appears on the list of what is known as ‘ superfoods ‘. But, beyond the commercial claim and its success (it sells in more than 3,000 establishments in the United States, Whole Foods included), this startup has made a traditional crop become a weapon for the empowerment of women farmers in Ghana, Nicaragua and Haiti.
They are the ones that, for the most part, provide this vegetable to the supplier, which has closed alliances with a thousand local producers (mainly producers) in the countries mentioned. In them, and thanks to the sale to this company of part of its crops, cooperatives led by women, non-profit groups and families that make a living from agriculture have obtained income for a global value of 1.5 million dollars. Another million is added to the impact of this company, in this case of planted trees.
And it is that, although it can pass for one more agri-food company, it certainly is not. Based in Oakland, this company founded by Valerie Popelka, Jordan Moncharmont, Anne Tsuei and Lisa Curtis, emerged precisely during a stay of the latter in Niger. It was in that country, one of the countries with the lowest Human Development Index in the world, where, at a time as a volunteer for the Peace Corps, Curtis tried moringa for the first time.
On a diet based on little more than rice and millet, the American felt the effects. “When she mentioned to a neighbor that she was feeling tired, she suggested that she try moringa. So, he brought several leaves from a nearby tree and mixed them with a very popular peanut snack called Kuli kuli . ” From that experience, beyond the rapid recovery of the young woman and the inspiration for the name of the future company, the idea and philosophy of the same was forged. “She started working with local people to encourage them to use moringa and founded Kuli Kuli to help women in this African region earn a living by selling a portion of their crops to the United States . “
With that germ and the success of a crowdfunding campaign that raised support for the initiative for $53,000, this company emerged that today distributes moringa throughout the American giant in the form of bars, teas or even natural energy drinks, among others products. With its successful market penetration; that of women in rural communities in developing countries and also in the United States. “Our long-term objective is the improvement of living conditions in our place of origin, Oakland, and in the communities from which we source,” assure the Kuli Kuli promoters who also specify that, among the purposes for which They work every day to put an end to malnutrition and to advance towards gender equality.
Along this path, a new step has been taken for the benefit of Haiti, a country especially affected by poverty and hit time and again by natural disasters. Thus, in 2015, Kuli Kuli, together with Whole Foods, the Clinton Foundation’s Haiti program and the alliance of small farmers, launched an initiative to plant hundreds of moringa trees in the Caribbean country. Thanks to its drive and a new crowfunding campaign that this time exceeded $100,000 in collection, the project has started rolling in Haiti. The benefit for the country, double or even more than that. On the one hand, it is reforesting and, on the other, an opportunity is opening up for local rural communities, with the promotion of a superfood that is beginning to rebound in the north and that, in the south, is encouraging hundreds of people to abandon the spiral of poverty that plagues these countries.