Where the Pakka Story began…
It all started in India. The cashews there tasted so good that the idea of a cashew trading business arose. Today, the idea transformed into a limited company based in Zürich. On June 3 2006, the company was founded by Ueli Baruffol and Balz Strasser. The start was very privat – Pakka was a true family business at the beginning: The living room table was used as the processing unit and the first bags with the precious kernels were wrapped and delivered supported by both founder families. In 2008 Ueli, Balz and Andreas Tschannen founded the Pakka Trade AG to be able to develop own projects in and out of the countries of origin.
Meanwhile many other nuts have joined the cashew kernels, temporarily also cacao and spices. However, in 2014 the strategic focus was completely set on fairly traded and organic certified nut products and nut value chains. Through its experiences, Pakka has become a professional supplier of services related with organic and fairly traded nuts. The company structure became evident with the continuous growth. Nowadays the three divisions Pakka Products, Pakka Trade and Pakka Services cover the entire value chain of a product: Starting with pre-financing the small farmer cooperatives in the countries of origin, trading of raw and semi-finished products to selling private labeled products as well as our own innovative brand Pakka.
Nuts and sustainability – a topic which Ueli Baruffol continuously approached over several years and has become his professional focus. He made crucial experiences during his studies of forestry sciences at ETH Zürich such as working in a project of Intercooperation on sustainable management of mountainous cloud forests in the Equatorian Andes. With the following master thesis on the internalization of benefits based on biodiversity in Oaxaca/Mexico, he recognized the importance of social entrepreneurship. He was impressed by the positive effects of small companies which contribute locally and added value in economically isolated regions.
After his University graduation, he worked at the research center WSL in Birmensdorf from 2002 – 2004. During his activity as consultant at Ecofact in 2005-2007 he decided to found Pakka.
Balz Strasser graduated in Agricultural Economics from the ETH Zurich and in Knowledge Management from the Wageningen Agricultural University in the Netherlands. Following his studies he spent four years working at the University of Zurich, where he wrote a dissertation on the income strategies of small-scale farmers in Southern India. He then lived on the Indian subcontinent for a year. While in India he decided to promote the first Indian organic and fairtrade supply chain for cashew together with his partners.
Between 2006 and 2008 Balz worked as a programme coordinator for Helvetas in Zurich (today known as Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation). Balz Strasser took over as CEO of swissnex India in Bangalore, South India in January 2014. Since then he is regularly visiting Elements & Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, the local Pakka partner, where Pakka buys the cashews from the beginning on.
Andres Tschannen is agronomist and Dr. Sc. Tech. ETH Zurich. During his PhD, he spent three years of field study in rural areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria. After a short Post-Doc at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS), he became Vice-Director of the same institute in Abidjan. During this period, he supported students and scientific studies in agriculture, health and nutrition topics. In 2008 Andres moved to Ghana where Pakka was shareholder of the organic cocoa company Yayar Glover Ltd. After two years of supporting this company, he returned to Côte d’Ivoire where he became director of Biopartenaire SA.