David Schmunk’s small business, African Dream Foods, fights for wildlife conservation while also sharing authentic African cuisine through their line of sauces and seasonings. They incorporate all-natural ingredients sourced from local South African farms into their products, and each purchase gives back to African wildlife. Every product purchased donates between .10 and .40 cents to grassroots organizations and initiatives, from educational programs to habitat preservation movements.
African Dream Foods offers eight sauces and four seasonings with various flavors for every palate. They use rare and popular peppers within their products, including African Bird’s Eye Chiles and African Ghost Peppers. African Dream Foods’ dual mission of spreading flavor and education to kitchens everywhere makes a small but delicious effort to help spread the appreciation of African cuisine.
Navigating through COVID-19
The founder and managing director David Schmunk and his diverse team combined their entrepreneurial sensibilities, their passion for wildlife conservation and their love of food to create African Dream Foods amid the economic chaos of the pandemic. 2020 led small businesses down a rabbit hole of financial difficulties, delays in the supply chain and other obstacles, but Schmunk found a way to lift his idea off the ground.
“A positive that came out of the pandemic was having to be a completely remote team, which actually worked out well for us as there was no location boundary as to who we could hire. We also had to pivot to a heavier focus on a digital strategy, as online shopping has only increased due to the pandemic.”
With team members living in Germany, the United States, Russia, South Africa, the Philippines and New Zealand, this new small business brings together what Schmunk calls the “Dream Team.” Each member is invested in ADF’s mission and its products.
“I know that the hours my team and myself put in are for something more than just making money,” says Schmunk. “We have an opportunity to really make a difference, and that makes it much easier to keep going and pushing through the challenging times.”
Why African Dream Foods?
“I started doing more serious research on what would become [the business model for] African Dream Foods in 2019 after my second trip to South Africa,” says Schmunk. “I visited some small pepper farms and food production facilities, and I experienced the flavors of African sauces, including Peri-Peri sauce.
“When I tasted these unique African flavors it really blew my mind! [African Dream Foods] has a twofold mission – we are looking to bring African flavors to the US market while spreading awareness about the need for African wildlife conservation.”
Filling the gaping hole in the US market for African cuisine proved far easier than educating consumers about wildlife conservation on the continent. Despite consumers’ removal from the continent’s wildlife, each purchase affirms the consumers’ own beliefs in conservation – though contributing to a cause doesn’t mean you understand it.
The dearth of information about African culture and history within the US educational system breeds myth and misconception. The average citizen might envision widespread poverty and vast landscapes with elephants and other creatures often labeled as “exotic.” On the other hand, the lack of education also gives ADF’s branding an edge.
“I’d say what draws most people to buy ADF products for the first time is curiosity to try something new,” says Schmunk. “There are not too many food products from Africa out there in the US market, and when you see our custom glass bottles with colorful labels of iconic African wildlife, I think it … captures your attention.
“It’s our flavors that get people to make a repeat purchase or send a #SendHotSauce gift box to their friends. [ADF attracts] consumers from all walks of life, from stay-at-home moms looking for a quick and easy flavor boost and chili heads to foodies who want to experience some authentic African flavors to typical BBQ (Braai) grill masters who use our spicy salts or our Safari Smoke Seasoning to add a little zing to their meats and veggies.”
Where African Dream Foods is headed
“I want [ADF] to create some sort of positive and lasting impact on the community and the world,” says Schmunk. “Consumers are indeed powerful. We vote with our wallets, and I love that the African Dream Foods business model allows people to support wildlife conservation just by consuming our products whether they care about the cause or not.”
Schmunk hopes to eventually expand product lines globally. But first he hopes ADF can conquer the US, kitchen by kitchen, until the brand gains ample traction. Check out African Dream Foods at their website for more information on wildlife conservation, their story, their recipes and their products, which include Ghost Pepper Salt, Safari Smoke Seasoning, Sweet Dream Sauce and more.
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