Rural communities across Africa are blessed with several mineral and agricultural resources. In West Africa, Parkia Biglobosa (popularly known as Iru, Dawadawa or Sumbala locally) stands out as a very affordable source of vital nutrients, for example, research shows that just 1 tablespoon of the product contains 80% of calcium needed for that day (RDA).
What is however unfortunate is that, despite over 10,000 women in West African rural communities estimated to be involved in Sumbala's local processing, poverty and hunger is still very predominant in these communities primarily because they have been unable to overcome the products inherent limitations of bad smell, short shelf life and unhygienic local processing. Furthermore, the product has remained in the same conventional form for well over a decade, thereby, not appealing to several customer preferences.
Through basic dehydration technology and innovative packaging, we have been able to over the limitations of bad smell and extended its shelf life from 10 days to 12 months.
We have also innovated further by making variations of the product, it is now available in Powdered Form, Bouillon Cube Form (which we have Patented) and is currently being adopted as an ingredient for the global BBQ Sauce Market (under development). All of these we have done in other to scale the nutrients and demand of the product beyond West Africa.
Most importantly, we developed a model that economically empowers women in rural communities for every pack of Sumbala we sell. We first sign them up as Hiru Champions with our product name being Hiru, we retrain them on the basics of pre-processing Sumbala hygienically then we purchase everything from them for further purification and final processing at our factory. This ensures that, the more the demand for Hiru grows, the more Hiru Champions across West African rural communities will be economically empowered.
From our experience working with 10 active Hiru Champions, the extra income the generate working with us has a ripple effect on their families, especially their children's education.
This is why we believe this is the perfect way to help rural communities develop sustainably in the face of rapid urbanization and Sumbala is only a beginning for us.