Students enable market entry in Germany for Moringa from Mali and the Ivory Coast
As part of two master's theses, moringa powder was sourced from socially committed producers in Africa, imported to Germany and will soon be available under the brand "Keyah Foods".
"In the long term, African smallholders should be enabled to offer their products directly in Europe without middlemen. When we heard about the topic, we sent our application directly to the responsible chair. Real problems and the opportunity to make a positive contribution make a Master's thesis even more exciting," say Stephanie Mitterer and Philipp Winner. But of course such a project also brings some challenges. The logistics are so complex that a paper was dedicated just to this topic. And since the budget is limited and the production numbers low, it was not at all easy to find partner companies for professional packaging production and contract filling. In the meantime, however, the moringa powder, Keyah Foods' first product, has arrived in Germany on schedule and can be ordered from the online shop. The project is part of the Bayer Foundation's Action Learning Programme and the Social Impact Start-up Academy (SISTAC), which brings together master's students with social entrepreneurs from emerging sub-Saharan Africa.
In this case, it is Herou Alliance, which was founded in 2019 by 30-year-old Rokiatou Traore in Mali. Together with her husband, she has developed a concept in which it organises groups of smallholder women farmers into efficient suppliers of moringa leaves. The company's efforts serve the main goal of eradicating poverty and malnutrition in rural areas. By working directly with rural women moringa producers, effective sustainability standards for product quality and environmental benefits can be ensured. At the same time, it contributes to the reforestation of the ecosystem and makes the cultivation of Moringa trees profitable to ensure environmental, economic and social benefits in Africa in general and Mali in particular.
The other is Swiss Tropical, which under Johann Dähler has established a plantation for moringa in the Ivory Coast. In addition to fair working conditions and fair wages for the employees on the plantation, Swiss Tropical pursues other social projects on site, such as the Clinique mobile Tiassalé. Together with fellow campaigners, the operation of a mobile clinic bus was launched to counteract the high female and infant mortality rates during births in the region. Equipped with an ultrasound machine, the bus now travels to the remote villages around Tiassalé for preventive check-ups.
The brand name Keyah Foods was chosen in reference to the African girl's name Keyah, which means "to be in good health". This is to represent the two major concerns of the project and the project partners - to improve the living and working conditions of young African women and to offer a high-quality food that is rich in important active ingredients such as vitamins, trace elements and secondary plant substances.
The first product is now available here. This is Moringa powder, which is produced by drying and grinding the tree leaves. The moringa leaves contain a very high amount of protein, vitamin A and calcium. Used in a similar way to a spice, it can be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen and thus enhance the everyday menu - stir into the morning muesli or porridge, mix into the smoothie, season sauces and much more! Delicious recipe suggestions are also provided on the homepage.
Now everyone involved hopes that the sale of the first product will be a success, because they would like to continue the project beyond the master's thesis. The next step is to include tea varieties from Herou Alliance in the product range. Michael Schwall of the Bayer Foundation supports the two students. We are excited and think this is a commitment worth supporting!