148, Kwami Williams, MoringaConnect | Unlocking the Value of Moringa to End Poverty

MoringaConnect connects smallholder farmers and consumers with the value of Moringa.

Unlocking the value of the Moringa Tree with Kwami Williams of MoringaConnect

Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams of MoringaConnect

This month on Social Entrepreneur, we’re focusing on Sustainable Development Goal 1, No Poverty. Around the world, there are people and programs working to help the poor to permanently overcome persistent poverty. Some programs work better than others. One factor that helps determine the success of poverty elimination programs is a systems approach, with consistent application over time. In order to do that, there needs to be a steady source of funding.

According to the World Bank, in Sub-Saharan Africa there are 389 million people living on less than two dollars per day. Most of these are rural poor, working in agriculture on small plots of land. They are commonly referred to as smallholder farmers.

Kwami Williams and Emily Cunningham met through the D-Lab at MIT. Their assignment was to work with smallholder farmers in Ghana to figure out the best way to unlock the value of the Moringa. The leaves are packed with nutrients. The seeds produce an oil with exceptional moisturizing and anti-aging benefits for skin and hair care. Emily and Kwami found that the problem was not the value of Moringa. The challenge was to connect the value produced by Moringa farmers to the value sought by conscious consumers.

When the class was over and Kwami and Emily returned to the US, they kept working on their ideas. “It became an obsession,” Kwami told me.

Kwami was studying aerospace engineering. Emily was studying economics at Harvard. But, with input from mentors, friends and early customers, they learned how to create products, build a brand and sell their products.

Today, Kwami and Emily run MoringaConnect, where they manage the Moringa supply chain for smallholder farmers in Ghana. They provide farm inputs, training, value-added processing, and access to global markets. As a result, they increase the farmers’ income by 10x.

They produce and sell two product lines, True Moringa beauty products and Minga Foods.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Kwami Williams

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘It became an obsession.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘I’m a rocket scientist by training.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

“Emily is a Harvard-trained economist.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘We fell in love with the farmers growing the trees.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

“We worked with the farmers and local fabricators to build everything in-country.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘#Moringa is a super crop of super crops.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘You have a tree that keeps on giving.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa, #Moringa“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘They’re honestly invisible to most consumers in North America.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

“We’re connecting people to the incredible value in Moringa, whether they’re farmers or consumers.”

“As we learn about the pain points of consumers in their personal care, we realized it aligns very nicely to the applications of Moringa oil.”

“It was a lot of lessons learned from people using our products.”

“We train farmers in how to grow Moringa, well, professionally and commercially.”

“We give them the right kind of inputs that they need so that they grow the right kind of Moringa that will boost their productivity.”

“We provide nutrition training so that they know the best way to integrate Moringa into their day-to-day food.”

“The cost of electricity, from when we incorporated until now, has quadrupled.”

“A lot of the services and infrastructure you need to build a business are either nonexistent or inconsistent.”

“Try to not be so in love with your baby, or even think about your social venture as your baby.”

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘You don’t listen so well when you think your solution is the greatest ever.’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

[spp-tweet tweet=”‘How can I make my life count in the biggest way possible?’ Kwami Williams, @truemoringa“]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

 

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About the Author
Tony Loyd is a TEDx speaker, podcast host and the author of Crazy Good Advice: 10 Lessons Learned from 150 Leading Social Entrepreneurs. He is a former Fortune 500 executive with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and leadership development. Tony is the host of the podcast Social Entrepreneur where you can hear the stories of changemakers who are making an impact on the world.

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