Meet Lisa Curtis Founder of Kuli Kuli

March 5, 2022
4 mins read
Lisa Curtis Founder of Kuli Kuli
Lisa Curtis Founder of Kuli Kuli

The founder and CEO of Kuli Kuli, Lisa Curtis, is the pioneering brand for sustainably sourced moringa.

Moringa, a leafy greens rich in protein and more nutritious than kale with anti-inflammatory properties that rival turmeric, is also a great source of antioxidants.

Kuli Kuli’s moringa bars, powders, and wellness shots are sustainably sourced by African women and small farmers all over the globe and sold in over 11,000 U.S. shops.

Lisa started kuli while she was in the Peace Corps.

It has since grown to be a multi-million-dollar social enterprise.

Lisa was the Communications Director at Mosaic, where she led a team that produced the company from zero to $5M in solar investment through Mosaic’s online marketplace.

Lisa worked as an impact investor firm in India, wrote political briefings, and was a United Nations Environment Programme youth advisor.

Lisa was named on the Inc Magazine’s Top 100 Female founders list and Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Her work has been published in many outlets, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

She also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning, Joe. Learn more at www.kulikulifoods.com and www.lisamariecurtis.com.

What is the story of Kuli Kuli?

While serving in Niger as Peace Corps Volunteer, I felt sluggish because I was a vegetarian.

Local women advised me to eat moringa leaf and showed me how to make a local snack called “kuli-kuli.”

My energy levels returned after I had eaten the healthy kuli-kuli moringa snack.

The moringa tree’s leaves are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and nutrients, which provide a substantial boost of nutrition and caffeine-free power.

I saw the potential of moringa as an essential tool for nutritional health.

Although moringa was widely known for its medicinal properties, farmers didn’t see any reason to grow it unless there was market demand.

I was motivated to create a market-based solution to allow moringa to be a powerful nutritional tool and increase U.S. market access for African women farmers.

When I returned to the U.S., Kuli was founded by me to bring the nutritious moringa leaves to American customers.

We also partner with communities to promote local consumption and create jobs.

How do you stay productive?

My typical day begins at 6 am when my one-year-old wakes me.

I dress her and take her for a run in the baby jogger.

My husband and I arrive home at 7:30 am. He feeds her, and then I dress and get ready for work.

Before I log onto my email, it takes me a while to think about what I want and set three goals.

The day continues quickly with a mixture of work and meetings.

My husband and I usually log off at 4:30 pm.

Then we go for a walk together. After we get back, he makes dinner and puts the daughter to sleep while I clean up.

I often log on to try and finish a few emails that evening.

Setting goals for the morning makes my day more productive.

I also find it helpful to take breaks during lunch and late afternoon.

​How do you bring ideas to life?​

I am an idea person. I have tons and tons of ideas.

Before taking my thoughts seriously, I usually test them out on others in my team.

If they agree with them, we create a plan to bring them into reality.

What’s your favorite trend?

I am excited about the new trend of food as medicine.

It is great to see Americans realizing that the food they eat directly impacts how they feel.

I have seen firsthand the power of superfoods and medicinal plants.

​What habits make you productive?

I don’t watch television, and I don’t spend much time social media.

This allows me to be productive while spending quality time with those I love.

What’s your advice for the Noob?

If I had the chance to go back in time, I would tell my younger self not to take everything too personally.

Kuli was my entire self and my self-worth when I started it.

This meant that I was susceptible to a retailer or person rejecting our products.

It took me some time to realize that you are not your business and that separating you from your company was crucial to long-term self-sustainability.

What is one thing we can all agree on?

I don’t think most emails need a response within 24 hours.

To make room for more productive work, I limit my time spent on email.

Sometimes it takes me several days to reply.

​What do you recommend as an entrepreneur?

Everyone should take some time, in the end, to reflect on the positive aspects of their day.

It’s something I have been doing for more than a decade.

It has helped me build resilience and keep a positive outlook, even during the worst days.

What’s your rich strategy?

Kuli Kuli’s success has been finding people smarter than me and better than I am.

I believe in understanding your strengths and weaknesses and hiring people who share your weaknesses.

How do you overcome Failure?

As an entrepreneur, I am constantly failing. One of my biggest mistakes was thinking that work was about output and not people.

As I have gained more experience, I have realized the importance of building solid relationships with my team members and our partners.

​Can you share a business idea?​

A business that specializes in curtains should be started.

They should provide the right amount of light and not glare to all those who work from home, sitting in front of their windows.

Natural lighting is better than a ring light, but the sun gets too bright during the middle of the day.

What’s your recent best buy? ​

A milk frother costs $12, completely changing how I drink tea.

What are your favorite Softwares or Apps?

Momentum is a chrome extension that displays a beautiful background and inspires you with a quote.

It also asks you what you would like to do today.

That helps me to focus on the things I need to do.

Which book would you recommend?

Traction is my favorite book. It provides an excellent structure for team goals and meetings.

​What’s your favorite quote?​

Failure to try is the only way to fail in life.

TL;DR by Lisa Curtis

  • Hire smarter people than you
  • Establish real relationships with them and external partners
  • Reflect on your goals and start your day with a positive attitude
  • Learn from your mistakes


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