Making a Difference one Grain at a Time

June 25, 2014
By Jenny Li Fowler

Aleem Ahmed MPA 2015 and Caroline Mauldin MPA 2015, are benefitting two countries with a single grain.

Ahmed and Mauldin launched Love Grain last year to produce gluten-free cereals, pastas, and pancake and waffle mixes all made with teff — a high-protein, high-fiber grain that’s a staple in the Ethiopian diet.

"I am impressed with Love Grain’s commitment to the small hold farmers that grow teff in Ethiopia," says Amy Davies, director of MPA Programs. "It’s been a pleasure to watch Love Grain grow as a result of Caroline and Aleem’s good work, and a pleasure to eat the pancakes — as I can personally attest that they are delicious."

Love Grain was inspired by Ahmed’s experience working for the Teff Value Chain Program at the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, where he helped three million farmers increase their yields. In the process, Ahmed learned that some seven-million teff farmers lack a market for their grain.

Ahmed and Mauldin saw an opportunity to bring healthy, gluten-free products to the U.S. market while at the same time, helping to improve the lives of Ethiopian farmers and their families in a sustainable way.

The partners are running Love Grain while both pursuing joint MPA/MBA degrees from Harvard Kennedy School and MIT Sloan. The idea evolved into a business plan that incorporated advice from professors and classmates, and the company took off from there.

"[Ahmed and Mauldin] have been able to take advantage of the strengths of both schools’ curricula and incorporate lessons in management and operations as well as international development, negotiations and leadership back into the way they run Love Grain," says Davies.

Love Grain
Cool Hunting — There's a new ancient grain in town, and it goes by the name of teff.

The tiniest grain in the world is native to Ethiopia, where it's mainly used to bake injera; the flatbread that's a national dish and eaten daily in households.

Teff is a nutritional goldmine—a great source of iron, calcium, protein, is naturally gluten-free and can act as a substitute for wheat flour in various recipes.
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