Profile: Karma Cola
Could you describe your company and its business profile?
Karma Cola and All Good Bananas were created to produce and sell organic and Fairtrade products that are good for the land, good for the growers and good for our customers.
We import and sell bananas grown in Samoa and by an association of small banana farmers in Ecuador. Proceeds from the sales of All Good Bananas go back to these growers to develop their farms and communities.
What we learnt from this experience in Fairtrade we’ve applied to the creation of Karma Cola and a family of drinks built on the same principles to honor the provenance of all the ingredients that go into making them in a transparent supply chain that supports everyone involved — especially producers.
We sell our bananas under the brand All Good in New Zealand, and our Karma Cola branded drinks in 23 countries around the world.
Named as one of The World’s Most Ethical Companies by The Ethisphere Institute for two years in a row and awarded ‘The World’s Fairest Trader’ by The Fairtrade Foundation, Karma Cola is taking on the Cola world and punching well above its weight.
What are the core values of your company?
They are in our names; All Good Bananas are good for the land, good for growers and good for our customers, Karma Cola does the same in as much as a fizzy drink can be good for you.
We’re just about to launch our Sugar Free Karma Cola in New Zealand to make even more of the ‘good for you’ part of our promise beyond the carefully sourced organic ingredients that go in all our drinks.
How would you describe the profile(s) of your (prospective) customers?
People who look for and appreciate great taste and quality in food and drink and care about the impact they have as consumers on the world and everyone who lives here; stylish and conscious consumers.
How do you engage your (prospective) customers?
Firstly; with the way our products look, secondly; the way they taste and thirdly and possibly most importantly; by telling the story of the good they do and impact they as customers are having on the lives of the producers they are directly supporting through the purchase of our products.
In a way we are sponsoring these producers through this direct trade.
We have found the story of Karma Cola, and creating products with very strong personalities – the flame-haired Gingerella on our ginger ale or Lemmy the Lemon on our lemonade – have also really engaged people. They have inspired people to adopt their perception of the character’s personality and we often get people approach us to share their stories – especially red heads.
The author of a blog for redheads and ginger lovers in the UK, Ginger Parrot, came to us to ask for help so we supported her by giving her product. We also supply product to RedHairDays, an annual festival in the Netherlands celebrating redheads.
Part of the idea behind the character of Gingerella was empowering redheads so we love to support all these causes and encourage people we believe in.
Social media – and user generated content – has played a big role in this kind of engagement and advocacy. An example of this is an instagram account called Lemmy’s Life, created by a Marlborough school girl to document her adventures with Lemmy by taking photos of the lid of our lemonade playing a part in the events that shape her life.
What were your challenges in finding sponsorship partners and how did you select them?
Our partners are the producers of our ingredients, like the villagers in Sierra Leone who grow cola nut for Karma Cola. We found them through a series of connections via our friends in the Fairtrade movement that eventually led us to the man who’s become the Chairman of our Karma Cola Foundation; Albert Tucker.
Albert in turn introduced us to the people in Boma, in the Gola Rainforest who have become the beneficiaries we trade with to be able to call our cola Karma.
Alongside purchasing cola nuts at a fair price, we have created a foundation to help the 2000 people in Boma village, Sierra Leone, and the surrounding area.
Six cents from every bottle of Karma Cola is channelled into the Karma Cola Foundation with the money raised so far used to build a bridge, send girls to school, create HIV/AIDS education programmes, rehabilitate forest farms, buy a rice huller and develop a seed bank – all projects decided by the villagers.
Could you describe the value shared and received beyond the dollars?
Our purpose drives the entire company and unites us with our producers and all our commercial partners.
The more drinks we sell the more good we can do and we can measure this in the number of girls we’re able to send to school in Sierra Leone, the well-being and future prospects of the eight communities we work with in the Tiwia district of the Gola Rainforest. What goes around come around.
Disclaimer: Giddy Up champions business leaders that share value along their full supply chain. Brian would love to visit the countries of partnership and meanwhile contents himself with their produce.