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Start-up: Macakao

27 September 2019 | By: Melanie Thomas, Digital Marketing Manager
The entire team of Macakao with Peruvian farmers in the Maca root cultivation area, the region of Junin.

Team Macakao

The entire team of Macakao with Peruvian farmers in the Maca root cultivation area, the region of Junin.

In this series, we present start-ups our EBS Alumni founded. MBA graduate José Miguel Rodriguez Damiani and his partner Maximilian Ott founded the start-up Kallpa Superfoods, which distributes the product Macakao. Macakao? Learn more about the product in this interview. We can reveal: it will be delicious!

How did the idea for Macakao emerge?

The idea of Macakao came up because before I came to study in Germany, I had always had the idea of bringing superfoods from Peru to Germany. Maca is one of the most iconic products in Peru and has a history of more than 2,000 years, dating back to before the Incas. However, in Peru, we consume it because we are used to the taste, but here as the product is new I thought about combining it with cocoa to create a new product with an interesting taste for the public but always maintaining the properties and great benefits that maca provides healthwise. This is how Macakao was born, organic cocoa powder with power-awakening Maca.

What is so special about Macakao?

To understand why Macakao is special you have to understand maca as a product. This is a root that only grows in the Peruvian Andes at more than 4,300 meters above sea level and that was for a long time consumed only by the royalty of the Inka State. For them, maca was as valuable as gold! And until a few decades ago it was on the verge of extinction. When we visited the area where it grows, we understood why it is so special. The area of cultivation is difficult to access and the oxygen content in the air is very low. Therefore, no other plant or vegetation can grow here, and there are neither animals nor humans living here. Only the maca root can grow in this difficult terrain. This root has developed and adapted to absorb the best nutrients out of the soil.

What are the biggest challenges on the way to starting a business?

The main challenge I think is oneself. You have to overcome that inner voice that always says that “it’s very difficult” or that “everything can go wrong” or “better stay in your comfort zone”. These thoughts can certainly distract you from taking this path, they are always warning you about the risks and dangers of your projects. If, however, you have a dream, you should follow that dream, no matter how much work is involved and how impossible that goal seems. Take it step by step – this has definitely helped me a lot.

You also support social projects. Why the project Ojos de niños? How do you support this project?

Although this product is something unique and special, the village where it grows is far away from a city. There is not good medical care and the facilities are very basic. From the beginning of this project, it was very clear that if I took something, I had to give something in return. Providing social welfare fulfils a meaningful purpose – what better way to directly reach the children of these peoples? Due to the location of the village (4,100 m.a.s.l.) the sun’s rays are very intense and the UV light damages the children’s retinas. By funding ophthalmic examinations for children, we want to educate both children and their parents about how to protect their eyes and what they can do to maintain their vision.

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Melanie Thomas
Digital Marketing Manager
+49 611 7102 1596