We're a team of US military veterans sourcing the world's most valuable spice - Afghan Saffron
Named after the 13th-century Persian poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi, our company partners with Afghan farmers to bring top-quality, sustainably farmed saffron to customers around the world. Started by a team of US military veterans joining forces with a lawyer who worked for the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program, Rumi sources saffron from local Afghan farms and employs more than 300 women in Herat, Afghanistan to hand-harvest the delicate crimson stigmas of the flowers. Committed to empowering Afghan women and bolstering the country’s economy, Rumi reinvests back into agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure. We are laying a foundation for peace, one saffron flower at a time.
“When goods do not cross borders, armies will.”
– Frederic Bastiat
Rumi began with a mission to cultivate peace in Afghanistan. We believe that creating demand for Afghan agricultural products will catalyze rural economic development. Over 80% of the Afghan population is reliant on the rural agricultural economy. The success of the saffron industry not only helps farmers and the women providing direct labor it touches every member of the village. In our second year, we have seen output from our existing partners double and triple, while new farmers have asked to join our network. Connecting Afghan farmers with the global market is key to unlocking the economic potential of Afghanistan.
Our Collective Experience
Rumi’s founding team consists of three military veterans with collectively nine combat deployments to Afghanistan and a lawyer who spent two years in Kabul working for the Afghan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP) and National Solidarity Program (NSP). All of us have lived and worked in Afghanistan. We have developed strong Afghan networks and on-the-ground understanding of how business is conducted. With our prior networks and in-country expertise, we have built the critical relationships, partnerships, and organizational infrastructure necessary to operate within and out of Afghanistan. Our competitive advantage is our ability to navigate the Afghan business landscape, which is built on trusted relationships.
With hot, dry winds over semi-arid lands, Afghanistan’s growing region is ideal for growing saffron. In 2016, the International Taste and Quality Institute of Brussels awarded Afghan saffron 1st place out of 30 competing regions. Rumi saffron is tested in accordance with ISO (International Standards Organization) protocol 3632 and surpasses the minimum required crocin content by 24.4%. Our test results show that our farmers are producing some of the world’s best saffron.
Among the most prized spices in the world, saffron has a complex flavor that is both semi-sweet and slightly bitter. Also known as Red Gold saffron comes from the interior of the amethyst-colored saffron crocusand must be hand-harvested due to its fragility. The flowers are taken from the field in the early morning as soon as they open and then transported to a facility where the three stigmas (attached to the crocus by yellow filaments called styles) are hand-separated from the blossoms. It takes 450,000 stigmas (or 150,000 blossoms) to make a kilogram of saffron.
“Buying saffron directly from Afghan farmers encourages future investments in Afghanistan's agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure.”
We are proud to announce that Rumi has earned certification as a B Corporation, a testament to the company’s commitment to social and environmental ethics, transparency and accountability. From day one, Rumi was laser-focused on the "why" of our work. Mission and purpose are at the core of everything we do—economically empowering Afghan farmers, inspiring Afghan women through direct wages, and building out Afghanistan’s agricultural infrastructure.
Now we join a global community of 1,500 other Certified B Corporations in over 120 industries and 40 countries with 1 unifying goal – to redefine success in business. As a B Corp, we promise to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability and aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.