Here's The Gist
Love Grain is a new food company with a bold social mission: to connect Ethiopian farmers with international markets through a line of wholesome, delicious products based on the superfood teff.
Every year, millions of Ethiopian farmers produce delicious ancient foods like teff, millet, barley, sorghum, chickpeas, legumes, and sesame. These smallholder farming families share the goals of people everywhere: to educate their children, provide food for their communities year round, and cultivate their land from planting to harvest.
Yet too often anxiety fills farmers' days as they face two primary challenges: First, at planting time, they lack cash and credit to purchase improved seed and fertilizer that could more than double their yield; Second, at harvest, they lack access to markets and often must sell their crops to local traders who purchase teff well below retail prices. With little collateral to speak of, farming families can't access working capital from traditional financial institutions. They are left with underperforming land and little bargaining power to improve their income.
We think this situation could use some attention. So in 2013, we started thinking about how we could build a business that would use market-forces to help Ethiopia's 6 million teff farmers. We know there is demand for good food in the United States, and we know that there is untapped capacity among Ethiopian farmers to produce that food. So we've set out to bring the two together.
Of course, we know that social impact doesn't happen overnight. Which is why we have a plan--and it involves you!
How We Roll
Our commitment to Love Grain's social mission is matched only by our dedication to good food. Through each of our products, we seek to return to the natural goodness delivered through Mother Nature's good graces. Starting with teff, our ingredients are wholesome and full of natural nutrition—no additives, fortified inputs, or preservatives. Put another way: if it's not old—like thousands of years old—we're not interested. We're big on plant protein and gluten-free fiber; we're also big on great taste without a ton of sugar. So as the world spins and evolves around us at dizzying speed, you can be sure that Love Grain will carry you through the day with the natural energy that has nourished our bodies for millennia.
We think about Love Grain’s growth and impact in two stages.
First, we are helping to build the market for teff in the United States. Never heard of teff? Right, that's what we thought. So this is where you come into our Master Plan for Social Good. Click here to learn all about teff's ancient, gluten-free, super food goodness. Then buy Love Grain. How easy is that? The more Love Grain you buy, the more good we can do.
Second, we think its important to honor teff's native people and land, so we are building partnerships with Ethiopian food processors and farmer cooperatives. By keeping a large portion of Love Grain's value chain in Ethiopia, we are contributing to the long term growth of the country's agricultural sector. We're excited to join the ranks of world-class organizations like Oxfam America and Partners in Food Solutions who share our commitment to sustainable agriculture and economic growth in Ethiopia.
Want to hear more? Check us out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfoqSrq6XdE (Forgive the at-home nature of the video, we're students!)
Aleem Ahmed, Founder and CEO, first got the inspiration for Love Grain while he was working with Ethiopia's Agricultural Transformation Agency to improve the productivity of teff farmers. Prior to his teff sojourn, he worked with Innovations for Poverty Action in Kenya to scale-up a drinking water safety technology and chlorine supply chain to reach 500,000 people. Before moving to East Africa, Aleem worked for LEK Consulting in Boston and Chicago. He is a third year MPA and MBA student at Harvard Kennedy School and MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is a Fellow with the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship. Aleem holds a B.A. in Political Science from Haverford College, is originally from just outside of Washington, DC, and is particularly fond of year-round cycling in Cambridge.