At the Heldenmarkt in Berlin I ran into the booth of the Baobab Family e.V., an association committed to sustainable development cooperation in Kenya. Two friendly young ladies identify me as a potential new member of the association. They do not know that I have heard of their work during one of my “baobab missions”.
The “family” part of the name is their program: The association gives orphans and street children in Kenya a home and takes care of them. “Baobab”, however, is part of an extraordinary story.
Andreas Triebel, founder of the association, works and lives in Germany with his family. Before he settled near Munich, he decided to fulfill a dream and travelled to Kenya in 1994 for the first time in his life. The former landscape architect did not need to be convinced to stay on – he appreciated the country and the people. A few planned weeks turned into two years.
Quickly, he fell in love with the mighty baobabs in the area. He describes the trees as “baobab – my big brother”. While he lived in Kenya he did not only get to know the sunny sides of the country. He found many people suffering from the consequences of poverty – particularly children.
His desire to help improve the living situation of the people in his immediate environment grew. He wanted to make a difference – particularly for all the children who lovingly called him “Papa Baobab”.
He bought a piece of land together with his wife Halima, who is Kenyan. There, he built a home for the newly established association “Baobab Family e.V.” The charity organization is based on the principle of “help for self-help” and operates from two different locations at present. In Mikindani, a new home was built for 40 boys. A children’s village for girls is under construction at Marinde / Homa Bay.
With money from donations he collects in Germany and worldwide and the help of his association, Triebel provides for the school education of the children because knowledge will give them good basis for their later life. The association helps children and adolescents to develop a professional perspective for their future.
Baobab Lemonade – a true highlight
To ensure that the vision of the “Baobab Family” remains viable, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kenya, supports the efforts of the Munich-based association. According to Triebel, both organizations generate funds, which benefit the work in Kenya. Costs for administration and wages in Germany are reduced by people volunteering their time and knowhow to the association.
Triebels vision does not end with his work for the benefits of Kenyan children. After he returned to Munich he wanted to establish a business with recycled materials but ended up developing a very innovative business idea. His love for the giant trees has never ceased and in 2009 he heard that importing their fruit powder into the European Union was finally legalized as a novel food. With this respect he did not believe in coincidence and set up a social business by the name “Baobab Social Business”.
The company focuses on two aspects: trading fair and innovative baobab products and awareness creation about the trees and fair trade in Germany.
Together with his wife, the entrepreneur has spent a lot of time and energy in establishing his company and the development of his products. His brand is called “Baola” and sounds a bit like “Laola”. How the name came about is a nice little story as well: he dreamt of it inspired by the “laola” wave during the football world championship in 2010.
Meanwhile an impressive product range has emerged from the healthy fruit powder, seeds and oil: lemonade, confectionery, bread spreads, chocolate, raw powder, seeds, soaps, oils and more. The highlight of the collection is his lemonade. It is not just “some refreshment drink”, but the “champagne among the sodas”, says the inventor himself and he is right, because his lemonade creations taste excellent.