Lisa Curtis witnessed the challenges that rural communities in West Africa face as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger. After a few months with limited fruits and vegetables, she found herself experiencing early signs of malnutrition — a condition that affects over 18 million children across West Africa. Then a friend told Lisa about moringa, a local tree with highly nutritious leaves and handed her a bag of kuli-kuli, a Hausa food made from peanuts, to make a delicious, nutty moringa dinner. Lisa incorporated moringa into her diet and began to regain her strength.
Lisa saw a solution to the malnutrition and poverty in her village growing in the nutritious leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree. Upon returning to the U.S., Lisa worked with her childhood best friend, Valerie Popelka to create the first prototypes of what became Kuli Kuli Bars. Jordan Moncharmont and Anne Tsuei brought their web and design skills to the team, and together we formed Kuli Kuli, a mission-driven business.
Kuli Kuli's mission is to provide everyone who wants to access the nutritional power of moringa with the knowledge and resources to do so. All of our products are made with moringa, one of the most nutritious plants on the planet, and nourish your body as well as the communities of West Africa where the plant is sourced.
Founder & CEO
Lisa began working on Kuli Kuli while in the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. As a volunteer in her village’s health center, she gained a first-hand understanding of the common nutritional challenges faced in West African villages and how moringa can play a role in helping to address those challenges. Prior to Kuli Kuli, Lisa served as the Communications Director at Mosaic, wrote political briefings for President Obama in the White House and worked at an impact investment firm in India.
Founder & CMO
Valerie Popelka brings her wealth of product development and marketing experience from GameChanger Products, an innovation and marketing consulting firm that focuses on consumer packaged goods. Valerie has helped to develop new products for General Mills, Hershey’s, Nestle, and many other CPGs. Valerie leads the Kuli Kuli teams’ product development and retail partnerships.
Founder & CTO, COO
Jordan is a software engineer who came Kuli Kuli by way of Stanford, Facebook and Tesla Motors. He has always been interested in how communities and technology interact to solve the world's problems. He leads our operations and finances, while also developing and implementing our online sales strategy and online marketplace, which tells the stories of the women cultivating moringa.
Founder & Creative Director
Anne brings nearly 10 years of experience in designing for consumer packaging and brand identity at prestigious firms such as Anthem World Wide, Sterling Brands, and Michael Osborne Design. She has built an extensive portfolio that includes Safeway, Whole Foods, and Sam’s Club. Her knowledge and understanding of the food category and her visual design skills help create a fresh and unique brand for Kuli Kuli that consumers are sure to remember.
Chief Alchemist of Numi Organic Tea
Ahmed is the Co-Founder, CEO and Chief Alchemist behind Numi Organic Tea, the largest premium, organic, Fair Trade Certified tea company in North America. Ahmed is responsible for all of the unique Numi blends and products that the company launches every year. Before starting Numi in 1999 in Oakland, California with his sister, Reem, Ahmed studied Theater & Psychology in New York City. He then spent a decade living, working and traveling throughout Europe as a professional filmmaker and photographer. Since 2009, Ahmed and his sister Reem have been evolving their vision for Numi through the Numi Foundation, with initiatives that focus on acknowledging and addressing the challenges within inner city Oakland; from education to health and nutrition. Ahmed sits on various boards and works with many non-profit organizations to focus on infusing art and nature into inner city communities, and mentors for-profit companies on enhancing their growth and sustainability goals. In 2011, Ahmed helped launch the nation’s first Waldorf-inspired multi-lingual, multi-cultural K-4 charter school: Community School for Creative Education. Ahmed’s core goal is to be of service to those focused on caring for their community and creating positive change for our environment.
President of Pacific Community Ventures
Beth is the President of Pacific Community Ventures, a social enterprise dedicated to creating jobs and economic opportunities in low-income communities through the direct support of small businesses as well as by advocating for systemic change to increase investment in these vulnerable communities. Since becoming President in 2009, Beth has grown PCV’s net assets from $3.3 million to nearly $6 million, established an internationally recognized research program focused on impact investing policy and best practice, scaled the Business Advising program tenfold, and secured one of just 20 Small Business Administration Intermediary Lending Pilot awards. As a result of her work with PCV, Forbes Magazine named Beth one of its "30 Top Social Entrepreneurs." Beth has also been named to the San Francisco Business Times’ list of "Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business." Prior to joining PCV, Beth had an extensive private sector career in financial services and real estate. Beth has a bachelor's degree from Brandeis, an MBA from Boston University and MPP from UC Berkeley.
Venture Investor, Start-Up CEO, and Entrepreneur
Derek is a Silicon Valley venture investor, start-up CEO, and entrepreneur. Derek has held CEO roles at five venture-capital backed companies, including Zip2 (Elon Musk’s first company) which Derek sold to Compaq for over $300 million. Derek has worked as a general partner at the venture capital firm Mohr Davidow Ventures, a Venture Partner at Morgan Stanley Ventures, and an R&D manager at Hewlett-Packard Labs. In 2012, two of Derek’s portfolio companies (where he served as a founding Board member) enjoyed significant financial events. MSpot was acquired by Samsung for $50 million, and SquareTrade closed a $240 million investment from Bain Capital. Since that time Derek has focused increasingly on impact investments in the food sector, and currently sits on six Boards. Derek received undergraduate degrees in Creative Writing and Cognitive Science, and Master’s degrees in Business and Computer Science all from Stanford University. He holds five U.S. patents. When not investing in start-ups or attending board meetings, Derek spends as much time as possible on his coffee farm in Kona.
Jean has 15 years of marketing leadership experience focused primarily on consumer packaged foods with tenures at Frito-Lay and Kraft Foods. During her eight years at Kraft Foods, she managed the marketing and P&L delivery for successful brands including Balance Bar, Breyers Yogurt, and Kool-Aid Jammers and launched over $60MM in new products. As Brand Manager on Balance Bar, Jean led a cross functional team to achieve 200% increase in profits, 8% volume growth, and overtook Cliff Bar as #2 brand in bars category. Most recently, she spent 4 years as a Director of Strategic Development for WebMD. She developed and executed $11MM in marketing programs on WebMD properties for leading consumer package goods and pharmaceutical companies targeting health-involved consumers. She has a B.S. from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and MBA from University of Virginia.
Lecturer at Stanford University
For three decades Larry Litvak has been a leader in the management, financing and governing of organizations pursuing social change. He has been a senior manager in two highly successful, socially- oriented business ventures: Walden Asset Management, one of the pioneers of socially responsible investing, and Working Assets/Credo Mobile, a telecommunications firm that has generated nearly $70 million to support progressive non-profits. He has been a board member of eight different entities, including domestic and international loan funds, social service providers, a public oversight board, a fiscal sponsor and a drug development enterprise. Larry has been a decision maker in the granting of approximately $100 million to social sector organizations. Larry has a bachelor's degree from Stanford and a master's degree from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Founder & Chief Consumer Officer of d.light
Sam co-founded d.light in 2007 and served as the company’s founding CEO. During his tenure as CEO, he raised over $11 million in funding, started the India sales and marketing division, and oversaw multiple launches of products, including the award-winning S250 and S10. Sam has been selected as an Ashoka Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader; he was also recognized by Forbes as one of the world’s top 30 social entrepreneurs. Prior to d.light, he founded and managed multiple ventures in Africa, including improved agriculture and construction businesses, a for-profit NGO cultivating the miracle tree Moringa oleifera, and the distribution of low-cost latrines, cook stoves and rain water catchment cisterns. Sam has lived in Cameroon, Mauritania, Pakistan, Peru, India, Rwanda, Canada, Hong Kong, and the United States. He served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Benin, West Africa which is where he first began working with Moringa. After graduating with degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, Canada, he earned an MBA from Stanford.