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Darpan Pindolia of Dhow Nature Foods: “The retailers and the distributors will take the bulk of your margin”

Leadership is about vision, courage and faith in moving forward even when times get tough, and while others are skeptical of your goals. e.g. at our permaculture organic farm we retain most of the original trees, and we farm within them to ensure a regenerative process. This was a very unconventional way of farming so […]

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Leadership is about vision, courage and faith in moving forward even when times get tough, and while others are skeptical of your goals. e.g. at our permaculture organic farm we retain most of the original trees, and we farm within them to ensure a regenerative process. This was a very unconventional way of farming so it was a huge challenge convincing the world that this needs to be the future for a sustainable environment.


As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Darpan Pindolia.

Darpan Pindolia is a vehicle for impact with a drive for positive change. His road is positive social impact businesses that embody excellence. He envisions Dhow Nature Foods to be an example of socially and environmentally sustainable businesses.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The passion for natural foods that the family has passed down is what has given Dhow such a rich foundation. The wisdom of herbal supplements and superfoods has long been an area of deep interest for my family. We believe in consuming only pure and natural foods, which are extremely vital for health. Also been brought up in Africa, I have seen that we are very lucky to have access to the necessities of life, whereas for the majority of society here in Tanzania it is a luxury. Therefore I believe that businesses should give back.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The deputy director for the UN development program emailed us out of the blue after seeing our product on the shelf and was surprised that it was Tanzania that made products that were involved in social initiatives for farming communities. He then visited our factory and as a result our organization is now part of the UN global compact program committed to Social Development Goals.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I didn’t realize monkey’s & elephants can do so much damage to crops! Our farm is located next to a national park in Tanzania. Monkey’s love what we grow, they even uproot our moringa trees to get to the tender roots. It is a challenge that we are still dealing with while looking for a sustainable solution. We can’t underestimate the power of nature!

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

We like to say we are passionate drivers for change towards Tanzanian agriculture, therefore as an environmentally and socially responsible brand, we leave a positive impact on society by actively contributing to farmer’s communities in East Africa. We impact these communities in different ways some of which include health & hygiene initiatives, education, and conservation. We’ve partnered with world class organisations such as the ITC (International Trade Centre — A UN Entity) and the GIZ (German Development Agency) to ensure the value added to the Tanzanian economy is not overlooked.

Our social impact initiatives go a long way; we develop water infrastructure for schools so students have access to clean water, and can focus on education. We also try to convert more farmers to organic farming and train them on conservation, teach them to care for soil health & provide them with a stable income stream.

We have recently renovated an urban nature centre with the Jane Goodall foundation to make it easier for the young generation to access nature.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

A school in the Mkuranga district in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania was greatly impacted through a project we carried out to instal clean water tanks. Before the installation, the kids used to travel 4 KM down to fetch water while skipping class, which was simply unsafe, unhygienic and irrational.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

The Tanzanian government tries to promote industrialization within the country and this is the step in the right direction, only by adding value to the beautiful raw products of Tanzania will we generate income to make a bigger impact to the economy. We are blessed with high quality natural products that are by default organic, but we need a transparent value chain to gain credibility in the international market. Communities therefore need to be educated about the importance of organic farming. Its goes hand-in-hand with our social initiatives.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is about vision, courage and faith in moving forward even when times get tough, and while others are skeptical of your goals. e.g. at our permaculture organic farm we retain most of the original trees, and we farm within them to ensure a regenerative process. This was a very unconventional way of farming so it was a huge challenge convincing the world that this needs to be the future for a sustainable environment.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

That it is really hard to enter the export market because of the various laws and regulations in different countries that are needed to be studied thoroughly to ensure a seamless process. People have a mindset that an African company will produce a sub-standard product, when in fact we are producing a world leading product. It is only when our consumers physically visit our facility, do they realize we are world class. This process obviously took longer than we anticipated.

Relatively, that it is harder to export to countries within Africa, like Kenya, than it is to developed countries because of the lack of standardization and regulations.

Additionally, the retailers and the distributors will take the bulk of your margin. You need to establish your own brand presence and identity that the consumer can relate to, to be able to be a sustainable long term business.

Being aware of the scale of crop damage that animals can pose and the risk it poses on harvest, is crucial and definitely something to be cautious about before farming at a large scale.

You need to leverage the power of digital marketing, data and e-commerce fast, even though it can be a steep learning curve!

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The ChooseForIMPACT movement where consumers need to realise that their daily choices have the power to make an enormous difference on the underprivileged and that they are the drivers for a sustainable future, society has to be more equitable for a sustainable future.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” All previous experience in commercial farming was totally opposite to what we were trying to achieve. Yet if you think about it deeply, the commercial farming system goes against the logic systems of nature which cannot be sustainable in the long term. To get this point across was a challenge. Just go out and do it! With proof of what you achieved.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

David Attenborough. His passion and his ability to simplify and inspire the youth to understand nature is amazing.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

LinkedIn: Elven Agri

Instagram: @dhownaturefoods

Facebook: Dhow Nature Foods

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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