OUR FOUNDERS STORY
My name is Yonas (Aka Yilikal) Alemu. Ethiopian by birth, and like many of my compatriots, my childhood and upbringing was intertwined with farming Teff.
I was born and brought up in a small farming village called Jiga in northern Ethiopia’s Rift Valley Highlands. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of getting up before dawn and walking through the morning dew barefoot to help in the Teff farms. It should all be a distant memory now, as I left it all for Europe having won a university scholarship nearly three decades ago.
After finishing my education in Europe and becoming a certified Financial Risk Manager, I spent 17 years working in some of the world’s top investment banks. Despite all the changes in my life, I found myself spending an increasing amount of time sitting on the trading floor day dreaming about the small village and the farmers I had left behind so many years ago. I knew that the experience of farming Teff had left an indelible mark on me. In 2014 I noticed that some health food stores around the City of London where I worked had Teff on their shelves. What is more, I discovered that it all came not from its origin Ethiopia, but from the US where the seed are commercially cultivated. From the day I found this out it was impossible for me to reconnect and focus on my busy day job.
I was no more the banker but preoccupied with what I left behind so many years back. It was time to tell the story of the ancient journey of Teff and the Ethiopian farmer that toiled for millennia to bring this versatile grain to the world.
Lovegrass Ethiopia was born.