L isa Curtis is the CEO of Kuli Kuli Foods in Oakland, California, a company that advocates for sustainability and proper nutrition. Curtis was also featured on Forbes 30 Under 30. She partners with local farmers to distribute the versatile moringa plant. I had the opportunity to discuss her entrepreneurial journey and quest to fight malnourishment.
When Curtis was in the Peace Corps in Niger, Africa, her vegetarian diet consisted primarily of rice and millet. “I felt like I didn’t have a lot of energy. I was feeling full but not nourished.” This made Curtis realize that “a lot of people in the developing world are filling their stomachs but not necessarily nourishing their bodies.”“Speak up for the issues that you care about.” - Lisa Curtis Click To Tweet
Curtis found a solution when women at the local community health center suggested trying moringa leaves. She first ate them with a popular West African peanut snack called kuli-kuli, and after consuming this dish, felt rejuvenated. She then wondered why there wasn’t more of a market for this amazing plant.
Curtis’s exploration of moringa in Niger was cut short when a terrorist attack forced her to evacuate. But after returning to the states, she wanted to give back and continue what she started.
She explained, “I came back to the US at the age of 22 and thought, I’m going to create a market for moringa here.” Now Curtis employs office, field, and sales workers.
Kuli Kuli sells pure moringa that can be sprinkled on anything from guacamole to oatmeal, and the company even has a smoothie line. Curtis talked about the benefits of this sustainable product. For starters, it’s a complete source of protein and natural anti-inflammatory; she even referred to it as “the tree of life.”“Now that we've figured out the roadmap, we're excited to add a little more fuel to that flame.” - Lisa Curtis Click To Tweet
Curtis acknowledges her competition and aims to set the standard for the marketing and production of moringa. “It needs to be grown sustainably and needs to be grown where it benefits the community where it’s stored.” She continues to form valuable partnerships with moringa farmers.
I asked if Lisa Curtis could make one major impact on the world what would it be? Without hesitation, she answered, “To end malnutrition. In the 21st century, there should not be anyone in this world who does not have nourishing food.” We should all pay attention to this unique entrepreneur’s selfless goal.“I'm a big believer in the Me Too movement, and the empowerment it has given to so many women.” - Lisa Curtis Click To Tweet