03 September 2015
With an extremely personal connection to the company (through Saskia’s very own original Aduna recipes), and a genuine love of the story behind the brand, it is only fair that we introduce you to a man who needed to change his life around, put his marketing skills behind something he truly believes in and spread the magic of the ‘feel good fruit’ around the world; the utterly inspirational, Andrew Hunt, co-founder and Managing Director of Aduna.
ANDREW’S DAY ON A PLATE
I always start the day with a baobab smoothie, of course. My favourite recipe is almond milk blended with strawberries, a banana and a heaped tablespoon of Baobab to keep me energised all day.
Lunch is normally a salad at my desk or if I’m at home, I take a stroll down to Camden Lock Market where they have some amazing street food. I’m a big fan of Circus Brothers’ tortilla espanol sandwiches. Yum.
I don’t need to look any further than the other side of the office to grab one of our Moringa Miracle Bars. A full teaspoon of moringa plus dried Mango & Almonds keeps me buzzing along nicely.
I love cooking but sadly I rarely have time, so I often end up ordering Japanese. Fortunately my parents live close by, so my mum also takes pity on me!
YOU WERE STUCK IN AN UNDOUBTEDLY FANTASTIC MARKETING JOB, THOUGH IT PUSHED YOU INTO A STATE OF UNHAPPINESS LEADING TO 6 MONTHS OF CLINICAL DEPRESSION – WHAT WAS THE TURNING POINT FOR YOU WITH REGARDS TO CHANGING YOUR LIFE?
When I was at my very lowest possible ebb and literally thinking about killing myself, I got a random phone call from a family friend called Angus Davison, an organic farmer in the UK and South Africa, inviting me to volunteer my marketing skills to a farming project in The Gambia. The amazing thing is that after just three weeks of arriving I came back to life. It was the combination of the sunshine, the warmth of the people and also discovering an inspiring sense of purpose in my life. No wonder they call it The Smiling Coast!
HOW DID LIVING IN AFRICA FOR, WHAT STARTED OUT AS 6 WEEKS (LEADING INTO 4 YEARS!), CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE?
The first year I spent in The Gambia I was living in a kind of shed at the back of a co-worker’s compound, with practically no electricity or running water, and yet I had the best year of my life. I got really clear that the most important thing for me is to wake up every morning and be passionate and inspired about what I am doing in my daily life. As long as I have that, I have what I need.
ANDREW, IT’S SO GREAT TO HAVE YOU AS OUR LATEST INSPIRATION, HOWEVER WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHO YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATION IS?
I’ve been most inspired by some truly amazing people close to me. My mentor Angus Davison for his relentless positivity and belief in human beings, even in the face of personal tragedy. My Dad for teaching me to always think BIG and my mum for giving me the confidence to pursue my dreams.
YOU MUST HAVE MOMENTS WHERE GETTING UP EARLY DOESN’T EXACTLY APPEAL.. WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE FOR FINDING THE MOTIVATION TO GET UP ON DAYS LIKE THIS?
I love my sleep and I’m really, really bad at getting up early! I’m also not a morning person – you don’t want to cross my path before I’ve had my baobab smoothie☺
WHAT MADE ‘ADUNA’ (TRANSLATING TO ‘LIFE’ IN WOLOF) THE PERFECT NAME IN TERMS OF CAPTURING THE ETHOS OF THE COMPANY?
As you say, Aduna means ‘life’ in Wolof and encapsulates a beautiful philosophy of how we should live our lives here on earth. Kind of like a West-African version of karma. On a personal level, Aduna the brand is about sharing with the world what Africa gave me, which is nothing short of life itself.
WE COMPLETELY ADMIRE THE WAY IN WHICH ADUNA HAS (STILL DOES) CHANGED THE LIVES OF THE BAOBAB PRODUCERS IN AFRICA, THIS MUST BE EXTREMELY HUMBLING – WHEN YOURSELF AND NICK SET UP THE COMPANY, WAS THIS SOMETHING THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO YOU TO IMPLEMENT FROM THE OFFSET?
Yes, absolutely. Aduna was imagine and created as a social business with a mission at the heart of it. This mission is to create demand for under-utilised natural products from small producers in Africa – starting with baobab and moringa. The impact on a rural household of the additional income from harvesting baobab can be quite profound. However we are really only scratching the surface of what it is possible to achieve in this dimension. At Aduna we only hire people who are inspired by this mission and this is what gets us all out of bed in the morning.
AND AT WHICH POINT DID YOU DISCOVER JUST HOW ‘SUPER’ BAOBAB IS AS A FRUIT?
When I was living in Gambia my adopted Senegalese mother, Fanta, used to make baobab juice for me, which I used to blend in my protein shake before going to the gym, but I had no real idea why I was doing that. Years later I made a pilgrimage to Senegal to visit the very first company to process and export baobab from Africa. When the owner, Pascal, explained to me about the nutritional profile and health benefits I was blown away. That was back in 2009.
A BIT MORE ABOUT YOU DIRECTLY, FOLLOWING A LONG DAY’S WORK, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING TO WIND DOWN IN THE EVENINGS?
There isn’t usually much of the evening left by the time I have finished my work – running a startup is kind of like that. But I have to confess I am a Game of Thrones and Dragons Den addict. And of course, I am a bit of a foodie, so I like to eat quite a bit (and sometimes cook!)
AND WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO WORK OUT AFTER A BUSY DAY OF SPREADING THE BAOBAB LOVE?
I used to play football, but I since I broke my ankle I sadly had to give that up, so now I mainly do the gym and swimming. Open to suggestions for a new low-impact sport!
YOU HAVE SOME DELICIOUS RECIPES ON THE ADUNA SITE (WE’RE SLIGHTLY BIASED, YES), HOWEVER WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO USE THE ADUNA PRODUCTS IN YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE?
Many of those delicious recipes are by your own fair (and very talented) hand, so thank you! My day tends to be quite hectic, so I tend to squeeze my superfoods in in the morning. A baobab smoothie and/or moringa mixed with half water, half apple juice.
AND FINALLY, WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHERE YOU SEE ADUNA IN 10 YEARS TIME?
Believe it or not, Aduna actually has a 35 year plan. We have lots of plans to scale up our impact with baobab and moringa, introduce new African super-ingredients and diversify our business into new segments of the market, but some of those are top secret! However what I can say is that in ten years’ time we want to see baobab established as a billion dollar industry for rural Africa, and Aduna known as the world’s first Africa-inspired global lifestyle brand and social business.
To find out more about Aduna and the Feel-Good tribe, head to the website here: http://aduna.com