How we got started
My name is Phil, and I'm the founder of Mavuno Harvest. I served in the Peace Corps in a tiny village called Miti Mingi in Kenya from 2003-2005. It was an amazing experience and taught me so many lessons – about life, the world, myself, humanity and a million other things. When I first joined the Peace Corps, I did it for a lot of reasons many of which were selfish. I had a vague notion of “helping others,” but didn’t really know what that meant. My experiences in the Peace Corps really first gave me the feeling of what it meant to work to actually have a positive effect on other people’s lives. It became an addictive feeling and has been a driving force in my life ever since.
I remember the mango season in Kenya. The mangos were delicious and sweet, but were very difficult to get during the year. When mango season came around, all of a sudden there were mangos everywhere. Even in my tiny village, mangos flooded the local market. I would take a matatu (local bus) to Nakuru about once a week, and whenever the matatu would stop, local women would rush the matatu’s trying to sell the ample baskets of mangos from the harvest. Unfortunately this is a huge disconnect between the market and the product. Small scale farmers could never sell their whole fruit crop, and are therefore missing out on opportunity. In fact, it is estimated that farmers can only sell about 30% of their fruit fresh, the rest goes to waste!
That’s where the idea for drying the fruits came from. Let’s say a farmer harvests 100 mangos from their farm. Selling to the local market, they sell 30 mangos throughout the year – the rest rot. Well what if the farmer still sells those 30 mangos to the local market, but then dries the remaining mangos and sells them as a delicious little snack? Now the farmer can actually receive 100% of the value of that crop!
The word Mavuno is a Swahili (widely spoken in East Africa) word for “first fruit of the season,” or “harvest.” Mavuno Harvest was formed as a business which provides a market and opportunity for African farmers to sell their dried fruits. It helps that the fruit is actually pretty awesome!
Read more on how we got started here, and a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer here.