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Keith Alaniz is a second year student at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, about to graduate with his MBA. Keith served a tour of duty with the U.S. Army in Iraq and was then transferred to Afghanistan for another tour. He finished his combat duties convinced that greater economic opportunities for Afghans were necessary for the future stability of the country. He then started a company, Rumi Spice, which organized Afghan saffron growers — the world’s best saffron — and began to market that rare and valuable product in the U.S. Now almost 2,000 saffron farmers have been organized to supply the company and Rumi Spice has begun to develop other products. You can order your saffron at rumispice.com. Please do.
-—Marvin Zonis

Rumi Spice: Cultivating Peace

Founded by a team of military veterans, Rumi Spice partners with Afghan farmers to bring top-quality, sustainably farmed saffron to customers around the world. We source saffr ondirectly from Afghan farmers and employ more than 1,900 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 the agricultural and manufacturing infrastructure. To date we have contributed nearly $1M to the economy of Herat Province and become the largest private sector employer of Afghan women. We are laying a foundation for peace, one saffron flower at a time.

Rumi is rapidly capturing the $60M US Saffron market, surpassing $1M in annual recurring revenue in 2017, but we will not stop there. The $2B US spice market is ripe with low quality, adulteration, and dominated by one or two brands. After creating success in saffron from Afghanistan we are prepared to source other high-quality spices with a story, maximizing value for producers while providing enlightened foodies high quality, ethically sourced food.

We supply saffron to restaurants and hotels across the country, from Michelin-star rated restaurants to fast casual dining. We have reached over 500,000 homes through Blue Apron, and we supply one of the largest bulk spice manufacturers in the United States. We have a strong ecommerce presence with over 10,000 direct customers across our platforms. Our retail channel has expanded rapidly to reach over 350 points of distribution. Each of our sales channels has more than doubled year over year. We are meeting the market demand for high quality products with ethical, transparent sourcing.

We are revitalizing the spice trade from the silk road. We at Rumi believe that the spice aisle should be a destination, where you can buy exceptional quality spices directly from farmers - the same spices used in Michelin restaurants – and serve them to your family. We believe that spices should have a story tell, food should connect people, and that spices can be a force for good.


Rumi Spice, PBC Founded
March 15, 2015

1st Seed Round $272K
September 2015

Established processing center
September 2015

Official supplier, Frontier Coop
April 2016

Established 3 facilities in Afghanistan
September 2016

Partnered with 94 farmers
October 2016

2nd Seed Round $415K
November 2016

Largest FDI in Afghanistan Agriculture
December 2016

Official supplier, Blue Apron
May 2017

Appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank
May 2017

Reached $1M in revenue milestone
June 2017

Hired 1,952 Afghan women
Nov 2017


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