Aduna spreading Baobab love

“The binary model whereby making money is the domain of business and doing worthwhile things is the domain of charity is analogue technology in a world that is now digital” (Andrew Hunt)

In 2004,  Andrew Hunt, co-founder and CEO of Aduna, was a scriptwriter having previously been an Account Director with a London advertising agency. Although he was successful, the University of Sussex English Literature graduate had felt his life, selling products he did not believe in,  lacked purpose. In 2005,   following a bout of depression and a nervous breakdown, he had the opportunity to visit Gambia for 6 weeks, volunteering. He stayed for four years and in 2011, after studying for an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School in Oxford, he met like-minded Nick Salter and set up Aduna. Today, this is an award-winning certified B-Corp that promotes Africa’s natural superfoods and empowers more than 3,000 farmers.

The products it sells, which are all 100 per cent natural, include Baobab fruit,  Moringa leaf, raw  Cacao (cocoa), Fonio grain and  Hibiscus flower. They, and others, are sourced from small-scale producers enabling Andrew and Nick to ensure both the quality of their products and the income for their producers.

A fruit from a Boabab tree (Pic: AFP)

Although it is a rich source of vitamin C, almost 50% fibre and high in antioxidants, the Baobab fruit mostly goes to waste. Hence, Aduna has introduced a marketing campaign to “Make Boabab famous” in order to increase demand for the product. Currently, there are some 2664 producers living in 63 remote communities and Aduna partners with a local conservation Non-governmental Organisation (NGO), ORGIIS, to collect the fruit. Additionally, it also employs a further 487 women to powder the fruits and, as a  result,  the average annual income has risen from £9 to £119 in what are some of the poorest regions of the country, where hunger and malnutrition are prevalent. This has helped to transform the lives not just of the women themselves but of their families and communities.

Aduna Co-founders Nick & Andrew with Julius (centre), Director of Aduna Ghana

According to National Geographic, the annual global market for baobab could generate as much as $1 billion for rural Africa, supporting 10 million households. Accordingly, Andrew and Nick have partnered with The Great Green Wall, a project to create an 8,000 Km wall of trees across Africa from Djibouti in the East to Senegal in the West. Millions of trees are being planted and Aduna is “working to build sustainable value chains for baobab, moringa and other superfoods on the Great Green Wall”. Already they have planted some 35,000 trees and have plans to plant 12,000 baobab trees in a community land restoration project. Additionally, they are experimenting with other under-utilised crops that grow along The Great Green Wall having created a dedicated innovation centre.

Headquartered in London, Aduna is a for-profit venture that has had two funding rounds and raised £809,100 in equity crowdfunding. It has 5 employees and is a Harmonious Enterprise in which profit, the planet and people are in harmony. Apart from addressing SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), it is addressing SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender Equality),  10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 15 (Life on Land) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

Since its launch, Aduna has won numerous awards for both its products and its activities. These include winning the UN’s Global Sourcing Award and the National Westminster Bank’s SE100 Storyteller Award for its “Make Baobab Famous” campaign, for which it also won £100,000 in Virgin’s Pitch to Rich #VOOM competition. In 2015, it won the U.K. Business Angels Association Social Impact Investment of the Year Award.

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