Making Baobab famous
Company website: http://www.aduna.com
Sector – Other: FMCG Retail
Baobab trees grow wild in 32 African countries. Its fruit is one of the most nutrient-dense in the world. Aduna is on a mission to “Make Baobab Famous” and create sustainable incomes for 10 million households in rural Africa.
Aduna is an Africa-inspired health & beauty brand and social business. Their mission is to create demand for under-utilised natural products from small-scale producers in Africa – starting with the nutrient-dense baobab fruit, moringa leaf and raw cacao, which they sell as powders and energy bars.
Aduna means ‘life’ or ‘world’ in Wolof, the main local language of Senegal and The Gambia, where Aduna’s founders Andrew Hunt and Nick Salter discovered their passion for Africa. By creating demand for under-used natural products that exist abundantly in rural Africa – and are either owned (like baobab) or easily cultivated (like moringa) by small farmers, Aduna can connect remote communities directly to the global health food market, providing transformative, sustainable income streams.
Aduna has received a number of awards in recognition of their work, including two Guardian Sustainable Business Awards (shortlisted), GSC’s Innovative Sourcing Award, UKBAA’s Social Impact Investment of the Year and two Great Taste Awards.Since launching in 2012, Aduna has taken its African “super-ingredients” from obscurity to best-sellers in health and beauty stores in the UK and 15 countries around the world. As a result of the demand they have created for baobab, 700 women in Upper East Ghana are receiving income flows through Aduna’s smallholder supply chain, enabling them to provide basic needs for their families.
Aduna is now looking to increase its distribution, expand its range and secure funding to bring a new under-utilised ingredient to market, all of which will significantly increase the company’s impact on-the-ground. As a Commonwealth Export Champion, Aduna hope to further raise the profile of their work and explore new opportunities for growth.
Apply now to become an Export Champion.
How did you hear about the CommonwealthFirst programme and what made you apply?
I was introduced by a contact at one of the Oxford Universities. We are keen on establishing a global footprint for the Aduna brand and the programme looked to be a very good way of gaining introductions to new markets.
What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Primarily the networking opportunities and the chance to establish in the brand within countries where we are not represented. We now export to eighteen different markets but have still yet to launch in a number of important Commonwealth markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
How did the idea for your company come about?
Our mission is to create demand for under-utilised natural ingredients from small scale producers in Africa. However, discovering the many benefits of the baobab fruit was the catalyst that sparked the idea of a business combining commercial opportunity with social impact.
What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
The key challenge has been educating the consumer and introducing the market to these new and wonderful ingredients. No matter how fabulous your products are, consumer awareness and an understanding of the benefits is crucial. We’ve learnt to become expert marketeers in the process.
What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Selecting the right partners in overseas markets can be a challenge: it is important to find the right business to represent your brand. Often the biggest challenge can be the information gap: shipping, duties, labelling and so on…we’ve learnt a lot but there’s always something new.
As a sustainable business, how do you measure your impact?
We have various measures, including the volume of tonnes of baobab fruit we process in Ghana and the growing, wider export market in other African countries. At an individual level, we measure the number of women and their families that are impacted by working with Aduna, their income growth and how that increased income is spent.
In what way is Aduna a social enterprise?
In many ways, answered by the question above. We are fundamentally a profit-driven, commercial business but one that actively seeks to make a positive impact to small scale producers in rural Africa. It’s at the heart of what we do.
What is a typical working day for you?
My focus is primarily on sourcing and new product development although, being a small business, I’ll get involved in a variety of projects. No one day is the same.
Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
Having established ourselves within the health food retail sector we are now starting to move the brand more towards the mainstream and into food service. It would be a real achievement to attain similar success in these two sectors, not least in our export markets as well as at home.
What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
I knew very little about the food industry, consumer retail or exporting before Aduna. The good news is that that there are a wealth of individuals out there who have gone before you, have many of the answers you need and are often happy to help you on your journey. Find and speak to as many of these experts as you can, as early as possible – it’s remarkable how much you can learn in a short period time that will prove invaluable in setting up your business.
Is there anything exciting you would like to share?
We’ve an exciting new range of products due out in the first half of 2017. Watch this space…