You are currently viewing How Mahmud Johnson Built a Social Business around Eco-Friendly Palm Kernel Oil with J-Palm Liberia

How Mahmud Johnson Built a Social Business around Eco-Friendly Palm Kernel Oil with J-Palm Liberia

★★★ In this interview meet Mahmud Johnson, founder of J-Palm Liberia, a social business, contributing to employment opportunities for young people in Liberia as well as higher incomes for farmers, by increasing productivity in and yield from sustainable palm oil and palm kernel oil production.

But that is just part of the impact. The other aspect is that Mahmud and his team put significant effort in producing skin and hair care products developed specifically for Liberians and Africans, products that as Mahmud puts it ” represent us in ways that we would like to be represented”.

Mahmud grew up in a time in Liberia, when there was great social conflict and most of the conversations he remembers from after the civil war, whether on radio or TV, were about rebuilding, economic development, economic transformation. There was a sense for him, that all Liberians should be a part of that rebuilding process.

After studying abroad on a scholarship, an opportunity, Mahmud calls improbable, he decided to come back home, to reach a hand back and create opportunities for other young people.

In the interview we talk about:

★ How a conversation with his aunt helped him come up with the idea and vision for his business
★ Challenges and rewards of doing business in Liberia
★ How J-Palm designs products from and through direct consumer feedback
★ How low appetite for risk at the bottom of the pyramid, might make innovation and adaption of new solutions challenging

And so much more….

Mahmud shares insights from the time he just started his business, to the point where he is now employing 30 full time staff and has created job opportunities for around 500 young people, thinking about the long run, of building a global brand with local roots and bringing more opportunities to farmers with the aim of accelerating economic development.

There is a ton of gold in this interview and we hope you enjoy it.
So without further ado, enter Mahmud Johnson.


Thomas is initiator of, co-founder of ecological sanitation company EcoToiletten, digital automation agency Strandschicht and the non-profit tackling youth empowerment YES Founders Foundation. He co-authored a book on Youth-led Changemaking and coaches entrepreneurs on resilience and mental well-being.