Healthcare as Economic Empowerment

Sana Javeri Kadri, a 25-year-old Mumbai native, founded her spice company Diaspora Co. to “put money into the hands of brown farmers.” 

Why? Sana moved to the U.S. where she saw “golden turmeric lattes” touted as the ultimate wellness concoction, and wondered how India, the largest exporter of turmeric, fit into this equation.  It was important to Sana that hard-working Indian farmers benefitted from the rising popularity of this classic Indian spice. As of Fall 2019, Sana has expanded beyond turmeric, adding cardamom to her offerings and will continue to add more spices, including black pepper, ginger and chili peppers down the line.

To truly understand Sana and her motivation behind Diaspora Co., we need to back up a bit. When Sana moved to the U.S. in her 20s, she found herself asking a lot of big questions regarding the roles that race, class, gender and social status play in our everyday lives. She wondered about the effects of colonialism, on both her personal upbringing and the world in general.

In her own words, Sana says it best:

The original intent of colonial conquest of the Indian subcontinent was a desire for domination of the spice trade. So as a postcolonial Indian woman at the crossroads of food and culture, the pieces just fell together- decolonization of food was putting power and resources into indigenous spice farming and creating a radically new and equitable vision of the spice trade, decolonization a commodity back into a seasonal crop, and a broken system into an equal exchange. 

Sana was relentless in her quest to work with the best farmers, producing the most potent and organically farmed spices available. We know, we’ve tried them (and you should too!) She researched again and again until she found farmers with the same values and goals as her. Her business model is an equity model. She pays the Indian farmers what THEY believe is fair, based on their business costs, their own personal expenses and cost of living. Sana also ensures that any farmer she works with pays their laborers above minimum wage.

When the LONA team met Sana, she had a big dream to launch a healthcare pilot for the {predominantly female} Indian laborers she works with. Most of the laborers had never seen a doctor, and she heard stories of malnutrition, cancer and even easily treatable illnesses causing stress and heartbreak among families. She wanted to change this, and LONA wanted to help! LONA proudly offered Sana a grant towards sustainable healthcare options for these laborers, and the 2019 LONA x Diaspora Co. Healthcare Pilot was born.

The healthcare pilot involved comprehensive health check ups, preventative care, and immediate care for 25 women in 2019 (Sana plans to continue the pilot as part of her business model in 2020 and beyond).  The remaining grant money will go towards starting a kitchen garden on the farm. Access to fruits and vegetables would be incredibly valuable, and eliminate a lot of the health issues that were seen.

Thank you Sana, for setting an example of how to operate a business that focuses on equity, kindness and grit all at the same time. We can’t wait to see where you lead Diaspora Co. next!

To support future grantees like Sana, invest in LONA today!

-Amy Gragnolati, LONA Co-founder

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Photos by Sana Javeri Kadri

Photos by Sana Javeri Kadri

Amy Gragnolati