Class of 2021
“If white women are going to consume turmeric, how do I make sure brown farmers make as much money from it as possible?” That was the question Sana Javeri Kadri asked herself when she set up Diaspora Co. in 2017. Having moved to California from her native Mumbai five years earlier, she quickly became conscious of the poor quality of spices available in the US and the fact that farmers in India were paid as little as 1% of the final price of their product. In her senior year at Pomona College, Sana began researching postcolonialism and working on the idea of decolonising the spice trade. The driving force of her project was to make it as profitable for India as possible.
An online spice-importing business selling beautifully packaged chillies, turmeric, cumin and even tote bags, Diaspora Co. aims to put power and resources into indigenous spice farming and create a radically new and equitable vision of the trade. Sana and her team work directly with farmers across India, paying them a fair price for single-origin, heirloom spices that are sustainable, equitable and unlike comparable products on the market. She says that ‘Made in India’ too often means fertilizer overuse, farmer suicide and worker abuse.
When Diaspora Co.’s supply chain was hit by the pandemic, Sana found solutions by moving to a pre-order model that allowed her to pay 100% advances to her farm partners and implement comprehensive healthcare at four out of six partner farms. Aside from her tireless campaign to decolonise spice routes, Sana is also an advocate for equality in all its forms. As a queer woman of colour, she serves as an inspiration to young entrepreneurs the world over.
“It's never been done this way before, it's never been led by someone that looks like me before, and it's never been so flavourful or fresh.” – Sana Javeri Kadri
Images: Aubrie Pick