On a trip to Ghana, Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams (who were at the time two young Harvard students) encountered the super-crop, Moringa. This discovery launched the friends on an entrepreneurial journey that resulted in MoringaConnect, a movement aimed at eradicating rural poverty through its clean beauty brand, True Moringa. The brand serves over 3,000 small farming families and will soon plant its one millionth Moringa tree. By serving the community the company has successfully increased farmer incomes by ten times in Ghana. True Moringa not only sells products that are truly natural and cruelty-free, it has also created jobs and contributed to the local economy — all due to the miracle Moringa tree.
We caught up with Emily to ask her to share the seven things most inspiring her at the moment. And yes, the first one is Moringa…
1 | Moringa trees —
This one is a given — it’s our full-time obsession! We learned about the Moringa tree five years ago while working with farmers in rural Ghana. Aid organizations encouraged farmers to plant Moringa trees for their nutritional benefits. Gram for gram, the leaves of the tree contain more iron than spinach, more protein than eggs, and more calcium than milk — but farmers weren’t making any money from Moringa because they had no access to market. True Moringa takes the unused part of the tree (the seeds) and turns them into a deeply moisturizing all-purpose oil for face, hair, and body that outperforms argan and jojoba. We also turn Moringa leaves into a nutritious powder similar to matcha that makes a perfect addition to smoothies. And bonus! — it’s a 100% vegan, complete protein!
2 | Vega coffee —
This rich, one-of-a-kind artisanal roast is proof that investing in the lives of farmers at the other end of the supply chain makes everyone better off. By empowering Nicaraguan farmers to roast their own coffee, Vega delivers carefully cultivated, freshly harvested, and expertly prepared coffee beans directly to your door while providing sustainable livelihoods for small farmers and protecting the environment.
3 | Elements truffles —
So much love and thought goes into crafting this amazing chocolate brand. Ingredients like rose, lavender, and turmeric make for a totally unique chocolate experience. There’s never any refined sugar in their bars, and a percentage of proceeds support education in India.
4 | PiperWai —
It’s darn near impossible to find a natural deodorant that works, but this is the holy grail. PiperWai is made with ethically sourced, natural ingredients — and it smells so good.
5 | Pacha —
Pacha makes shower time so much fun with their whimsical and sweet-smelling bath bombs and soaps. Better yet, they work directly with farmers around the world to source their natural ingredients — and it just so happens they use our Moringa oil in the formulations!
6 | Ten Thousand Villages —
We’ve admired Ten Thousand Villages from afar for quite a while, and we’re so excited to launch in several of their locations this holiday season! They offer gorgeous home goods, clothes, and jewelry from artisans around the world.
7 | Yvaya Farm —
Whenever we bring volunteer teams to Ghana, they can’t get enough of the mangos and pineapple. (Eating tropical fruits in the US just isn’t the same!) As a Ghana-based brand, we’re all about other Ghanaian owned and operated brands that introduce new natural products to customers around the world. Yvaya Farm offers our absolute favorite dried mango, papaya (paw paw), banana, and pineapple.
Illustration Credit: Juliet Romano.