Ari Raz with one of PureJoy's baby food varieties. Photo by Ralph Alswang.

There are very few people who would buy a one-way ticket to Washington DC with the dream of getting into food production. Meet Ari Raz, one of the founders of PureJoy, who capitalized on the city’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and support for small food businesses.

Ari initially intended to start a restaurant. However, he had little experience in food production itself. Thoughts then shifted to a different type of food venture, inspired by memories of home-cooked food and concern for early childhood nutrition: baby food production.

The idea caught fire as other like-minded individuals joined the team and a recipe from his brother, who was already making baby food for his own children, came about.  With some careful tweaking and plenty of taste-testing, five recipes emerged as favorites, and production soon began in DC’s Union Kitchen.

But it wasn’t enough. Pure Joy decided to expand into children’s snacks such as apple, sweet potato, and kale chips. They’re currently working to get these snacks into schools to ensure all children have access to healthy food during the day.

PureJoy's current products. Photo by Ralph Alswang.

Their Kiva Zip loan has helped with packaging and branding, and their successes have shown, including a feature in Washington Life Magazine. The loan is only a small part of their story thus far, but it helped expand their reach and attracted interest from 171 lenders from across the world.

To Ari, one of the highlights was the interactive nature of the loan that allowed anyone to take part in it or track their progress. Watching the money come in even became a family affair, as Ari’s father would constantly call him with comments like “Ari! Somebody from South America loaned you money!” until the loan fully funded.

Support from their families, in addition to the great support from the Zip community, has been instrumental as PureJoy continues to develop, expand, and spread its food throughout the DC metro.

Consider making a loan to support one of the great entrepreneurs in the DC metro (including DC and Northern Virginia) who are currently fundraising on Kiva Zip! 
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