Ecological Fruit & Vegetables. For Delivery, Or At A Gourmet Eco. Restaurant

Bank Cultura Bank
Client Kolonihagen Distribution and Maaemo
Location Oslo, Norway

Norway is blessed with many small producers of high quality ecological food, but often they are too small to deliver to the big supermarket chains. Some sell directly from their farms or at farmers markets, but given Norway’s geography and sparsely populated areas, efficient distribution of small quantities of ecological produce is challenging. Nevertheless Cultura Bank finances two enterprises who successfully distribute ecological food Kolonihagen Distribution and Maaemo. Kolonihagen delivers ecological farm products and baked goods direct to people’s homes, and Maaemo is an ecological gourmet restaurant, with two Michelin stars.

In 2004, two young Norwegian women, Katrine Bratlie Engdahl and Jorunn Carina Engdahl, had the idea that it would be great if more people could access high quality ecological fruit and vegetables which were not generally available in supermarkets.

The entrepreneurs started out with 10 customers and packed the goods in their own kitchen. Fresh vegetables and fruit from small ecological farmers were packed in wooden crates and delivered to homes in the Oslo area, weekly or every second week. As the business grew, they needed more capital, but several banks turned them down.

Luckily Jorunn and Katrine found Cultura Bank, where they finally met people who believed in their concept. In 2007 they expanded their business to include their own bakery, which Cultura Bank helped finance. They also started their own café in 2009. In 2013 the number of customers enjoying vegetables, fruit, eggs and baked goods delivered to their home weekly has grown to about 1,500.

In 2009 Katrine’s husband, Jon-Frede Engdahl, joined the company. His background in advertising was a great asset. During a Christmas party he gave a speech which included a dream to start a 100% ecological gourmet restaurant. The idea caught on, and more people joined in the planning. Cultura Bank believed in his vision and helped to finance it. In December 2010 the Maaemo restaurant opened, and was a great success from the start. In March 2012 Maaemo received two stars from the prestigious Michelin Guide.

So, what are the secrets to Jorunn, Katrine and Jon-Frede’s success? They are hard-working, excellent communicators with their customers, and they follow their heart. And they strongly believe in their mission, to inspire people to make more conscious choices about food. It’s a powerful mix that they share with their bank.