Black Business Spotlight: Jajja Wellness Tonic

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New business offers healthy pays homage to rich legacy

If you’re looking for a tasty and healthy alternative to sugary beverages, Jajja Wellness Tonic might do the trick. Local entrepreneur Henry Kisitu launched the online beverage business in 2016 to honor his beloved grandmother Jajja Margaret Lutaaya. In Uganda, “Jajja” means grandmother. The wellness business pays homage to her plight and legacy.

Kisitu’s grandmother passed in November 2016. She was well-known for creating indigenous and organic wellness tonics. “My recipes are my grandmother’s recipes. All African-inspired superfoods,” said Kisitu.

Around that time, he said, “One of my college buddies got sick in Hawaii; he came, I made the juices.” From that experience, Kisitu was instantly inspired to carry on the familial tradition of creating wellness tonics by launching a business.

All of the products are natural, organic, and manufactured in St. Paul. They are available at various locations: The Wedge Co-op, City Center Market, Seward Community Co-op, Mississippi Markets, Produce Exchange at the Midtown Global Market, Longfellow Market, and Hampden Park Co-op.

Kisitu is well-versed in business due to his educational background. He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s from St. Thomas College.

He recalled, “When I was in school, I was doing construction at the State Capitol.” As a result, he created certain tonics like the Agave Lemon Detox tonic to benefit active individuals.

Most importantly, “The energy behind our product matters. It’s something that is ancient. Reminds me of home,” said Kisitu. As a result, he only utilizes high-quality, “health-building” ingredients.

Henry Kisitu
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Kisitu shared that his children enjoy Jajja Wellness’ Hibiscus Lemongrass and Spirulina. The tonics have significant amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Children enjoy the flavors and it’s very healthy for them.

Customers have a total of 10 refreshing tonics to enjoy, from Pineapple Ginger, Spirulina Ginger, Baobab Turmeric, Hibiscus Lemongrass, Moringa Ginger, African Coffee, Agave Lemon Detox, Turmeric Pineapple, and Pineapple Ginger. They are priced at $5 each. Customers can also order by the case.

For individuals that need a boost of energy, the tonic wellness shots may serve as a superb solution. The small 2 oz. tubes of Jajja wellness shots come in two potent flavors Turmeric Pineapple and/or Pineapple Ginger. They are priced at $3 per bottle.

All of the tonics are organic and natural, unlike sweet and syrupy sodas. “African Coffee has a lot of vitamins in it. We use pineapple,” said Kisitu. He described it as, “Refreshingly healthy, naturally energizing.” After sampling the rich, mahogany-hued coffee, I felt instantly energized and rejuvenated.

Health and wellness is the theme surrounding the business. “One of the things I do at my stands is educate people.” He informs customers about the ingredients he uses and the benefits of the products. This informative approach helps strengthen and grow his customer base.

Most recently, due to the COVID pandemic and civil unrest, it’s been challenging for Kisitu to connect with customers. “A setback in business is not being able to do in-person marketing, Kisitu explained. “We can’t go out there and talk to people.” As a result, he shifted his business to abide by COVID safety protocol.

“Mostly we’re growing a lot with word-of-mouth,” Kisitu continued. “We can’t do sampling in stores—COVID put the brakes on everything and pushed everybody to work at home.”

Despite the COVID pandemic, business has been flourishing. Fortunately, “We’re selling a lot in stores. Still talking to co-partners to see if we can get people to market us,” said Kisitu.

In closing remarks, Kisitu shared his philosophy and encouragement for young people. “Support yourself and be self-sufficient. Notice everything is connected.”
He added, “Also, I think it’s very important to stress the importance of having purpose in life. Have a bigger purpose that will push you throughout. Every day I wake up for something.”

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