This Superfood Fuels Social Good
Monday, March 6, 2017
Lisa Curtis learned about moringa, the tall leafy plant that she’s trying to push as America’s next super food craze, while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small, rural village in Niger, West Africa. Food was scarce and Curtis, a vegetarian, felt constantly tired. So when some people in the village suggested she eat the tree’s leaves, she decided to try it.
“It made me feel like I had more energy,” she says, so she did some research. “I was like, wow, this is kind of amazing. There’s this tree that grows in the tropics, and the leaves contain about a third protein by weight. It’s a complete protein. It’s really high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron.”
Today, Curtis sells moringa under the brand name Kuli Kuli with a line of energy bars, shots, and powder. It’s available in 2,500 stores nationwide including Whole Foods, Safeway and Albertsons. In January, Kuli Kuli earned $4.25 million in a Series A round led by Kellogg’s new venture fund, eighteen94 capital.
But as Kuli Kuli has expanded, they’ve set some principled limitations on exactly how they’ll grow by converting to a benefit corporation, which requires the company to draw up a plan that helps all of their stakeholders, including farmers that might otherwise be exploited, and publicly report environmental and social impact.