Kuli Kuli Inc: The Superfood bar that is changing livelihoods
In the hot plains of Chinandega, Nicaragua, Julio MonteAlegre and his workers are planting moringa. A superfood that is well known in Nicaragua but still growing in popularity in the United States. The crop is driving Julio’s company, Esentium, to create more impact for his local community of El Viejo.
I met Julio through Kuli Kuli foods, a social enterprise based in Oakland, California, that sells delicious bars and powders for smoothies. In just three years they have become the most significant moringa buyers in the world. After a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 that saw them become the biggest fundraiser for a food company, they began selling their bars in the Bay Area. They were approached by Wholefoods for national distribution and now source moringa from Ghana, Haiti and Nicaragua.
“It’s common knowledge that when you invest in a woman, you invest in a community,” explains Valerie Popelka, COO. “As a social enterprise, we need to be successful because we’ve seen so many failed aid and government projects, so we keep that in mind when working with our producers. We don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver.”
This is a company that is doing great things and scaling so quickly in so little time.
They impressed me because they have a great product and are committed to working with producers to ensure their supply chain is ethical. They even helped their suppliers become Fair Trade certified so that they could pay them better!