Lisa Curtis

Lisa Curtis's picture
Basic Info
Wild Gift Class Year: 
2013
Better World Expertise: 
Conservation & Stewardship
Education
Sustainable Food & Agriculture
Current Occupation: 
Founder, Kuli Kuli
Wild Gift helped me reconnect with the wilderness. I now regularly make time to get outside and unplug, a practice that has improved my focus and clarity, allowing me to greatly grow my social venture.
Impacts of My Work: 
200,000 moringa trees planted in Ghana and Haiti
700 smallholder women farmers supported with a sustainable livelihood
$300,000 of organic moringa powder purchased from women-led smallholder farming cooperatives
800 stores nationwide carrying Kuli Kuli moringa products, including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Kroger

I got my first taste of moringa as a Peace Corps volunteer in a small village in Niger. As a vegetarian, I was eating mostly rice and millet — a diet that left me feeling sluggish. When I mentioned my fatigue to women at the community health center, they suggested I try moringa. I bought moringa leaves from a neighbor’s tree and mixed them with a popular peanut snack called kuli-kuli. I soon felt better and began to work with villagers to encourage them to use moringa. I founded Kuli Kuli to help women in West Africa use more moringa locally and earn a sustainable livelihood by selling a portion of each harvest to the US.

After returning to the US, I recruited three amazing co-founders Valerie Popelka, Jordan Moncharmont and Anne Tsuei to launch Kuli Kuli. We launched through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which raised $53,000, making it the most popular food campaign Indiegogo had ever had at the time. In 2015, Kuli Kuli announced an initiative with Whole Foods Market, the Clinton Foundation’s Haiti Program, and the Smallholder Farmers Alliance to plant hundreds of moringa trees in Haiti and sell a Moringa Green Energy Shot made with Haitian moringa. As part of this new initiative, we launched a second crowdfunding campaign that raised $100,000 from over 500 people. This ambitious new project will help reforest Haiti with drought-tolerant moringa trees while providing Haitian smallholder farmers access to the growing market for moringa leaf powder.

 

Starting Kuli Kuli has taught me a lot about how to get the right people and resources onboard and steer the ship the right direction. I'm happy to share my experiences navigating the CPG space, fundraising and building a strong brand.