Kuli Kuli, maker of the eponymous moringa “superfood” nutrition bars, has raised $350,000 in a crowdfunding equity campaign.
The campaign brought in an array of notable investors, including Brad Feld of the Foundry Group, five-time CEO and former venture capitalist Derek Proudian, and Mary Waldner of the recently acquired food company Mary’s Gone Crackers.
Following closely on the heels of the new crowdfunding laws, Kuli Kuli is one of the first companies to finance entirely from the crowd. Thanks to the passage of the JOBS Act last fall, companies such as Kuli Kuli now are able to publicly advertise its fundraise and accept investment from accredited investors. Kuli Kuli found that, through crowdfunding, it could attract investors both small and large.
In May 2013, Kuli Kuli raised more than $50,000 on Indiegogo, which became one of the highest-grossing crowdfunding food campaigns of all time. The company also received a $25,000 grant from online votes and a $5,000 loan from Kiva lenders.
Much of Kuli Kuli’s popularity comes from the uniqueness of its primary ingredient — moringa oleifera — a multipurpose tree native to the Himalayan foothills in northwestern India. The somewhat tattered-looking tree grows quickly, is resistant to drought and almost all of its parts are edible, tasty and highly nutritious — everything from its leaves and pods to its seeds, flowers, roots and bark offers a complement of protein, calcium, minerals, iron and several important vitamins.
The irony lies in the fact that moringa grows in subtropical areas where malnutrition is most prevalent — such as West Africa. Despite moringa’s abundance, many people living in these areas are unaware of the plant’s potential.
Kuli Kuli claims to be the first to retail moringa food products in the US, sourcing it from women’s cooperatives in West Africa in an effort to help those communities move away from dependency on food aid and towards nutritional self-sufficiency.
Since initially launching its line of moringa bars at 10 Whole Foods locations throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the company already has expanded to over 100 stores. In addition to Whole Foods, the moringa bars now can be found in Krogers, Fred Meyers, and other natural foods stores across Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. Kuli Kuli says it intends to use its newfound capital to expand beyond the West Coast.