This London Banker Left UK for Ethiopia Because of African Superfood Teff

Yonas Alemu is the founder of Lovegrass Ethiopia, an Ethiopian health food company that produces a variety of products using teff and other Ethiopian grains.

Teff, an ancient grain native to Ethiopia, is regarded as a superfood since it is high in fiber, gluten-free, and high in vitamins, minerals, and protein. According to How We Made It In Africa, Alemu decided to enter this market after seeing teff in various health food stores in London.

Alemu was perplexed when he discovered the teff on stores was not from his own nation, Ethiopia, but from the United States, where it is commercially cultivated. He was working as a banker in London at the time. He was immediately inspired to return to Ethiopia and begin selling food goods on the global market, with a focus on teff.

Alemu traveled to Europe from Ethiopia after winning a university scholarship years ago. He worked in investment institutions such as Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan for 17 years in London. He left his position at Credit Suisse in 2016 to create Lovegrass in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was thrown into a political crisis just as he opened his business, forcing him to return to London, where his wife and children were living. He was also given the option of quitting the project or outsourcing it. He chose to outsource production by hiring manufacturers in Europe, despite the fact that the raw materials were still sourced from Ethiopia.

He later returned to Ethiopia after the political situation had settled. In terms of power and manpower, he claims that manufacturing in Ethiopia is less expensive than manufacturing in the United Kingdom. However, he was eager to point out that profit was not his only motivation, but rather to help his country’s industrialisation.

Alemu stated that he obtains his raw materials directly from farmers. He also has a long-term supply relationship with them. He now manufactures the majority of his products in Ethiopia, although the pasta is still prepared in the United Kingdom.

Last year, the investment banker turned agro-processor stated that Lovegrass employed 50 workers and is awaiting BRC food safety certification. According to How We Made It In Africa, he intends to relocate all of its processing to Ethiopia in the near future.

Alemu mostly exports to the United Kingdom, followed by Ireland, Sweden, Germany, and France. He claims that sales are split nearly 50-50 between third-party sellers and the company’s own website.

Since its inception, Lovegrass has received numerous awards for excellence in the United Kingdom and France. As a result, his products may be found at major retailers such as Ocado, Selfridges, Whole Foods, and Planet Organic.

“The day we first exported [teff] pasta to Italy was probably one of my happiest,” he said.

Written by PH

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