Kuli Kuli

Congratulations! This Entry has been selected as a winner.

Kuli Kuli

Oakland, NigerAlameda, United States
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Kuli Kuli creates moringa superfood bars that nourish the world. We add an innovative twist to the Fair Trade model by working with women farmers in West Africa to grow moringa, process it in a way that preserves the nutrients and export a portion of their harvest to the U.S. to generate income.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In West Africa, 18 million children are malnourished and over 75% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. In the same region, moringa—known as the “miracle tree”—thrives and has high levels of protein, iron, calcium, vitamins, and antioxidants. Unfortunately, few communities benefit from moringa because the seeds are expensive, the leaves are processed in a way that leaches the nutrients and it is not an income-generating crop.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Kuli Kuli sells nutrition bars in the US made with moringa imported from West Africa. We help form women-operated farming cooperatives that provide moringa seeds and teach women to grow, process and incorporate nutrient-rich moringa into their families’ diets, reducing malnutrition levels. We import a small portion of the moringa to the US for our bars, creating an international market for moringa and additional income. Many of the women we work with make 5-10x the average income in their region. We believe that Kuli Kuli could scale globally, as moringa thrives in many countries that suffer from malnutrition and is resilient to the increasing droughts caused by climate change.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Our flagship moringa partner and sourcer is Adaeze Agu, founder of Moringa Revealed. One woman she works with is Aisha who lives in a rural village and cannot afford to purchase expensive moringa seeds. Adaeze brought the seeds to her village and taught her how to grow and process the moringa to retain the nutrients. Adaeze purchases up to 40% of the moringa, leaving the majority for the women to feed to their families and sell locally. Aisha used the profits to buy more food and send her children to school. Adaeze and Kuli Kuli are forming an African Moringa Alliance, a consortium of citizen sector and for-profit organizations, working to grow, produce and import moringa while ensuring strong quality standards and social impact.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the last year, Kuli Kuli has transformed from an idea into a company. Through the team’s hard work and growing support network, we forged partnerships on the ground in West Africa, completed our first round of consumer product testing, and raised over $50,000 through an Indiegogo campaign to fund the first manufacturing run of our bars. We are currently negotiating a contract with Whole Foods for placement in their 40 SF Bay Area stores. Though our impact to date has been limited to six cooperatives in West Africa, we are confident that this impact will grow exponentially in the next three months. Now that we have proven that there is strong demand for our moringa products, it is time for us to return to West Africa to co-create a sustainable way of sourcing moringa that improves local health and incomes. Resources and connections from NFA will allow us to use a human-centered design process to build a scalable moringa supply chain.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

It costs Kuli Kuli $1 to produce our bars, which we sell for $2.49. We take a 40% gross margin to sustain our business and pay our farmers. We want to provide a sustainable livelihood for our farmers while ensuring that we produce more moringa in West Africa than we source for the U.S. market. Thus we are committed to paying Fair Trade wages, reinvesting our profits in the moringa cooperatives and only sourcing 40% of each moringa harvest.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The key to Kuli Kuli's competitive edge is moringa. As the first company to bring moringa to the United States in the form of food product, Kuli Kuli has the opportunity to introduce this incredible superfood to the U.S. market. According to the 2011 Mintel U.S. Nutrition & Energy Bars Retail sales of nutrition and energy bars in the U.S. grew at 9% annually between 2006-11, reaching $1.7 billion in 2011, despite a general decline in consumer goods spending. Kuli Kuli has a few competitive advantages this growing market by being gluten-free, vegan and made with all-natural, simple ingredients. Kuli Kuli is also set apart by our strong social mission that is incorporated into our bottom-line.

Founding Story

Lisa Curtis is the core of our team. Her experiences and observations as Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, followed by her time evaluating social enterprises for an angel investment firm in India, formed the seed for our company. Upon returning to the US, Lisa brought together a multidisciplinary team to form Kuli Kuli. Nadia Mufti conducted independent research on international aid effectiveness and now connects Kuli Kuli with new ideas and thought leaders through her job at Ashoka. Jordan Moncharmont brings five years of experience from Facebook to develop and implement our online strategy while telling the stories of women who cultivate moringa. Valerie Popelka, our Product Developer, is an associate at GameChanger, where she works with food companies like General Mills and Hershey’s to develop, test and market new products. Anne Tsuei, a creative strategist and designer, brings ten years of experience to create a powerful and competitive visual identity for Kuli Kuli.
About You
Kuli Kuli
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Kuli Kuli

Organization Country

, CA, Alameda, Alameda County

Country where this project is creating social impact
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

Ashoka Emerging Innovator American Express Award, Wild Gift Better World Entrepreneur, Stanford BASES Semi-finalist and
William James Foundation Semi-finalist.

Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Nutrient-rich farming, Full nourishment foods, Human wellness and vitality.

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

Within the last year, Kuli Kuli has transformed from an idea into a company. Through the team’s hard work, dedication, and growing support network, we have incorporated as a company, developed product recipes, manufactured and packaged our bars, and forged partnerships with organizations on the ground in West Africa. Additional mentorship and resources from Ashoka will accelerate our business development and help us reach our goal of developing moringa into a well-recognized nutrient-rich superfood in the United States that serves as a catalyst to improve nutrition and livelihoods worldwide.