Aleem Ahmed and Caroline Mauldin, both MBA ’15, are staking their future on teff, a tiny East African grain. The MIT Sloan classmates launched Love Grain in January 2013 with two goals: to produce gluten-free products from teff and to improve the lives of farmers in Ethiopia.
“We’re really excited about bringing new, healthier foods to market in the U.S., and at same time we’re really passionate about the social mission of the company, which is to help farmers double their output and triple their profits,” Ahmed said. “It’s a powerful way to help farmers live a better life.”
Teff is a high-protein, high-fiber grain, a staple in Ethiopia that Love Grain is incorporating into a line of gluten-free products. People with celiac disease or those who are sensitive to gluten—a complex protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—need gluten-free options in their diet, and the gluten-free category has grown dramatically in the United States in recent years. Love Grain’s first commercial run—1,400 units of a pancake and waffle mix that sells for $8.95 a package—went on the market just before Christmas, selling online at lovegrain.co and at Violette Gluten Free Bakery in Cambridge, Mass. The company is already profitable.
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