Kuli Kuli: Moringa with a Mission

January 1, 2020|
2 minute read


Kuli Kuli Founder, Lisa Curtis, happened upon the nutritious leaves of the moringa plant by accident. It was 2010, and she was serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa. During her time in Niger, Lisa had a difficult time finding healthy vegetarian options, and was subsisting mainly on rice and millet – a diet that left her feeling weak. When she mentioned her fatigue to a few local women in the village health center, they pulled the leaves off a nearby moringa tree and mixed them with a popular peanut snack called kuli-kuli.

Lisa quickly felt her energy levels restored, and began eating moringa daily during her stay in West Africa.

Moringa is a nutritional powerhouse. It is a complete plant protein with twice as much protein as kale, 3 times the calcium, and 4 times the iron. It is also rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Though moringa grows abundantly throughout the tropics, Lisa saw very few villagers eating the super green. She began working with them to encourage the use of moringa to combat malnourishment, a common problem in the area. They asked for her help in creating a market for moringa, and the idea for Kuli Kuli Foods was born. Lisa returned from the Peace Corps in 2011, and spent the next couple of years navigating import laws and creating a product that would highlight the health benefits of moringa leaves. She began selling moringa-based energy bars at her local farmer’s market in 2013, and officially launched Kuli Kuli Bars into retail stores in 2014.

Over the past few years, Kuli Kuli has undergone tremendous growth. Their product line now includes organic Moringa Vegetable Powders, Smoothie Powders, and Wellness Shots. As they’ve grown, they’ve made leveraging the environmental benefits of planting moringa a top priority.


Moringa is known as a “climate smart” plant. Its fast growth rate and large root system allow it to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide.

It is also drought resilient and can grow in sandy soils making it ideal for reforestation efforts. Kuli Kuli now sources Moringa directly from farmers in 10 countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, and Sri Lanka. They work closely with their suppliers to obtain organic certification and implement responsible farming practices, like intercropping. Intercropping is the practice of planting 2 or more crops in the same space at the same time. When done properly, intercropping can help naturally suppress weeds and improve soil structure. It also allows farmers to maximize their resources on a small parcel of land.

Helping their suppliers create a source of sustainable economic growth is paramount to the Kuli Kuli mission. Most farmers in the areas from which they source live at or below the poverty line.

Moringa has become an enormously important crop for Kuli Kuli’s suppliers because they can sell it for 3 to 4 times the amount they are selling their other crops. As Kuli Kuli expands, they are working to incorporate more climate smart plants that grow well with moringa into their products with the hope of creating further sources of revenue for their suppliers. Kuli Kuli is a brand that is truly using business as a force for good, and we are proud to sell their organic Moringa Vegetable Powder in our Wellness department. Their brand new organic Moringa Wellness Shots will be available in our stores beginning in January.

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