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Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams  

Co-Founders, MoringaConnect

Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams are the Co-Founders of MoringaConnect, a company that seeks to empower smallholder farmers with the resources to reach a global market for high value crops. Emily first discovered the vast potential of agriculture and the lack of agricultural capital available to farmers while working in microfinance and enterprise development in rural India. Through MIT's D-Lab, she channeled this passion for rural development into affordable technology design, co-designing a Gates Foundation Award-winning multi-crop thresher and Moringa oil processing technologies in rural Ghana that would lay the foundation for MoringaConnect. She has continued her work with D-Lab, scaling affordable technologies into sustainable businesses. Emily graduated cum laude from Harvard University where she studied economics with a focus on developing economies.

Kwami was born and raised in Ghana and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. His passion for science and innate curiosity led him to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering at MIT and to work with NASA. He first returned to Ghana through a service trip, and his encounter with rural poverty in the region led him to restructure his Aerospace Engineering degree and create the first Global Development concentration in the department. He has since applied his engineering skills to the international development sphere. In partnership with MIT's D-Lab, he has co-designed an award-winning human powered centrifuge, a low-cost heat sealer, cell phone chargers for off-grid communities, and led the research and development of MoringaConnect's human-powered Moringa processing technologies. Kwami has relocated permanently to Ghana to build MoringaConnect's commercial processing center and farmer networks.

MoringaConnect empowers smallholder farmers with the tools to reach a global market for high value crops. Our current focus is on the Moringa tree: the nutritionally dense leaves provide farming families with a stable food source, and the valuable oil seeds provide a sustainable income. We provide our farmers with agricultural inputs and capital, aggregate Moringa seeds and process Moringa oil in-country, and export and sell Moringa oil to cosmetics formulators worldwide. We aim to leverage the skills of the smallholder farmer and the profound potential of agriculture in the developing world to eradicate rural poverty. Using a vertically integrated supply chain based in Ghana, MoringaConnect takes the moringa tree, a plant common in arid climates like Africa, and turns it into beauty products from its seeds for sale by Birchbox and pre-packaged snacks from its leaves for sale in Ghana. So far, MoringaConnect has planted over 270,000 trees and provided over $415,000 of income to 2,300 farming families in Ghana.

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30 Under 30: Green Thumbs

Their startup has partnered with 2,500 farmers in Ghana to harvest leaves and seeds from the moringa tree for beauty products and food, helping the farmers earn $450,000 so far ...

From Ghana’s giving tree a hair and skincare line grows

Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams learned about the moringa tree when they traveled to Ghana with MIT’s D-Lab to pursue solutions to poverty. The indigenous tree improves nearby crops, has nutrient-rich edible leaves, and seeds that produce high-quality oil. Back in Cambridge, the pair developed True Moringa, a hair and skincare line with moringa oil, ideal for most any body part, from hair to heels, as its core offering. Back in Africa, the duo has facilitated the planting of more than 250,000 trees, helping to increase the incomes of 1,600 small farms ...

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