Thanks to Cardinal Corner for their support.
You can get a taste of Uganda here in Minnesota thanks to West St. Paul’s Henry Kisitu and his Jajja Wellness Tonic. His startup company sells a variety of drinks at farmer’s markets and local grocery stores, based on his grandmother’s recipes that he says offer health benefits.
Raised by his grandmother, Margaret Lutaaya, in Uganda, Kisitu often helped her make the drinks in her kitchen and sell them. After she passed away in 2016, Kisitu launched Jajja Wellness to honor her.
“This has been passed on by my grandma to us and now I’m trying to expand it from Africa to here,” Kisitu told Fox 9. “I want my grandma’s legacy to go on.”
About Henry Kisitu
Jajja Wellness’ commercial kitchen is located in St. Paul, but Kisitu lives in West St. Paul with his wife and two children. When he’s not making juice, Kisitu loves cooking and soccer—both watching and playing.
Conversation With Henry Kisitu
We talked with Kisitu about his company:
What brought you to the U.S. and Minnesota specifically?
I received a scholarship to attend the University of St. Thomas. So I came here in 2007 from Uganda. My brother was living here at the time so I wanted to join him here in Minnesota as well.
Did you always intend to start making drinks?
Not initially. I always enjoyed cooking and wanted to one day open a food truck or restaurant. I was actually living in Hawaii when a friend came to visit and he had a bad cold so I made him the tonics my grandma always used to make. He felt better immediately so I started to make them for friends and gatherings. One day a friend of mine told me I should sell them.
What impact did your grandmother have on your life?
My grandma, Jajja as we call all grandparents in Uganda, was a wise and caring woman. After my parents passed, she carried me and she helped teach me things about life, plant medicine, healing, etc.
She was always kind to me and she was a motivated business woman too—I was always inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit!
What’s your most popular flavor? How is the American palate responding to Ugandan flavors?
Our hibiscus lemongrass tonic is the best seller! It’s a floral yet tart flavor with so many health benefits. I find that Americans are so excited to try new things and so far all feedback has been really positive!
Are Jajja drinks available in any West St. Paul stores?
The closest stores we sell at are Hy-Vee in Eagan and the Mississippi Market co-ops. We hope to be in the new West St. Paul Hy-Vee when it opens.
What do you love about West St. Paul?
West St. Paul is such an easy location when living in the Twin Cities. It’s close to everything, there are so many food options, there are great parks here, it’s relatively diverse and progressive, and at the same time it maintains its residential feel.
Thanks to Henry Kisitu for sharing his thoughts with us.
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