Business can be a Source for Good

Category: Grad News
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This episode features a conversation with Kimberly Jung ’08 and Emily Miller ’08, Co-founders of Rumi Spice.

In this episode of the WPAOG Podcast, Bridget Altenburg ‘95, President and CEO of the National Able Network, is joined by Kimberly Jung ‘08, CEO of Blanchard, and Emily Miller ‘08, Senior Impact Fund Manager at Twilio.org. In 2014, they founded Rumi Spice, an award-winning social enterprise that provides high-quality, sustainably farmed saffron to world-class chefs and Michelin-rated restaurants, by sourcing directly from Afghan farmers in an economic partnership partners in the supply chain.

“I think really what West Point teaches you is about leadership and management, which I think has been the most helpful in my career, and also in my time as an officer in the Army. That leadership part, you really just can’t get anywhere else in the same way that West Point gives it to you. And you learn it by doing. You learn it through practice. You learn it by following. You learn it by leading in small teams over and over again, and getting feedback for how to do it better. And that’s what I think is the most important thing that comes out of West Point into the Army.”

—Kimberly Jung ’08

Kimberly and Emily are 2008 graduates of the US Military Academy at West Point, former US Army Engineer officers, and Harvard Business School graduates. As social entrepreneurs and co-founders, Kimberly led Rumi Spice as CEO and Emily as COO. They have employed over 4,000 Afghan women and partnered with over 300 Afghan farmers. Their work has been featured on Shark Tank, selected for Y Combinator’s social fellowship program, and featured in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Foreign Policy, NPR, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, Nightline with Diane Sawyer, Voice of America, Food & Wine, and more.

In this episode, Kimberly and Emily talk about how their time at West Point and in the military prepared them for becoming entrepreneurs, the tremendous impact Rumi has had on spice trade in Afghanistan, and how their startup has helped create jobs for women in the country. They also recount stories of their experiences serving abroad in the Middle East.

Episode Timestamps

(02:46) High School Experiences
(04:30) Why they attended West Point
(06:31) Their R-Day experiences
(10:03) Stories at the academy
(11:09) Activities at West Point
(13:15) Picking a military branch
(17:58) Attending Sapper school
(22:45 ) Deployment experiences
(31:09) Creating Rumi Spice
(35:30) Rumi’s impact on Afghanistan
(39:19) Business Ventures after Rumi Spice
(40:49) How West Point and the military prepares entrepreneurs
(43:00) How West Point and the military have helped Rumi Spice

“Entrepreneurship is not for everybody, but it is addicting once you do it because you realize it has so many similarities to the West Point and Army experience, you know, in combat. It’s fast paced, it relies on a small, tight team. You have to move fast. You have to ruthlessly prioritize. You have to be incredibly creative about how you problem solve, and you know, make things happen. You know, you’ve got this big commander’s intent and you have to figure out how you operationalize this and work. And then I think the other thing is just being undaunted by failure and by being told no. You know, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable all the time. I think that is, that is what entrepreneurship is.”

—Emily Miller ’08

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The WPAOG Podcast is a strategic initiative focused on tailored audible communications to further inform Graduates on current AOG projects, events, and USMA updates. This customized content is mainly for USMA Alumni and the West Point Community solely produced by the West Point Association of Graduates. The Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Audible, Google Podcasts, and iHeartRadio.

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