Karma Cola


Founded: 2012, by Chris Mor­ri­son, Si­mon Co­ley, Matt Mor­ri­son Em­ploys: 30 full-time staff Le­gal sta­tus: Lim­ited li­a­bil­ity com­pany

Tell us about Karma Cola.

Karma Cola: We started a com­pany called All Good in 2007 to pro­duce or­ganic and eth­i­cal goods that would be good for the land, the grow­ers and the peo­ple who bought them, and through All Good we brought the first Fair­trade ba­nanas into New Zealand. Then we tripped across the statis­tic that the world drinks 1.9 bil­lion co­las a day but cola farm­ers weren’t earn­ing any­thing, which gave us the idea for a soft drink that could con­nect cola lovers with cola farm­ers.

All Karma Cola drinks are or­ganic and Fair­trade where pos­si­ble. There was no Fair­trade cola when we started trad­ing with West Africa, so we cre­ated our own di­rect trade sys­tem. We won the Fairest Fair­trader Award in 2014, out of 27,000 Fair­trade prod­ucts glob­ally, be­cause of the work the Karma Cola Foun­da­tion does in Sierra Leone.

What are the big­gest les­sons you’ve learned? Un­der­stand­ing your ‘why’ is vi­tal. If peo­ple don’t know your story, your ‘why’, they won’t look out for your prod­uct. It helps to fig­ure out your ‘how’ as well: ‘how’ you’re go­ing to reach your cus­tomers.

Fail­ure is part of suc­cess. Although we liked the name Karma Cola and the con­cept, when we started we didn’t know much about cola or the peo­ple who grew it. It was a long jour­ney un­til we pro­duced our first batch of cola six months later, and luck­ily for us, know­ing the right peo­ple who knew the right peo­ple re­ally helped us out.

Once we met the peo­ple of Boma [a small vil­lage in the Gola rain­for­est in Sierra Leone], we knew we had to keep go­ing. One whole vil­lage, now eight, di­rectly ben­e­fited from the sale of our drinks and that mo­ti­vated us to make it a suc­cess.

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