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Startup Crowdfunding to Sell Superfood Bars in US to Aid West African Farmers

Oakland-based social enterprise Kuli Kuli is launching an Indiegogo campaign to leverage its “superfood” nutrition bar to help alleviate poverty in West Africa.

Kuli Kuli Bars are gluten-free, raw and made with just a few simple all-natural ingredients, the company says. The bars also are low in calories but contain high amounts of fiber, protein and vitamins. The bars are made from moringa oleifera, a tree that has been widely documented for its vast nutritional properties and ability to grow in poor soil with little water.

Moringa has been shown to be one of the most nutrient-dense plants in the world with high levels of protein, iron, calcium, vitamins and antioxidants. The tree is important for vegetarians and rural farmers who cannot afford meat, as it contains the essential amino acids methionine and cystine, which are among the hardest amino acids for the body to acquire from plant-based diets.

The company says it hopes the bars can help West African communities move away from dependency on food aid and towards nutritional self-sufficiency through moringa.

“As a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, I saw firsthand the impact that moringa can have on improving nutrition,” said Lisa Curtis, Kuli Kuli’s Founder and CEO. “We came up with the idea for Kuli Kuli to support women’s cooperatives to grow more moringa to nourish their communities and sustain their efforts by selling a small portion of their harvests in the United States in the form of delicious nutritional bars.”

The company says it hopes to help build awareness of moringa as a nutrient-rich superfood in the United States that can serve as a catalyst to improve nutrition and livelihoods worldwide. While the plant remains virtually unknown in the U.S., it has been well documented to help fight poverty from in Africa, India, Haiti and other regions suffering from malnutrition.

Kuli Kuli also claims that as climate change makes rainfall increasingly unpredictable for low-income farmers in the developing world, moringa will become an important tool to help communities around the world take control of their own nutrition.

The company says it tested the bars at farmers' markets in Oakland with much success. After spending two years developing the bars by hand in a commercial kitchen, Kuli Kuli is using Kickstarter to raise $50,000 in order to produce the first official batch to begin distributing to grocery stores while building up its network in West Africa.

The Kickstarter campaign kicks off on May 6.

In related news, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation recently joined forces with WaterAid to increase accessibility to safe drinking water for one of the poorest suburbs of Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and in two rural communities in southern Ethiopia.

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