Natacha Baranyuzwe is a Rwandan entrepreneur believing in natural products to heal the world and be a source of livelihood for her community. After having been trained as a pharmacist, she set up her company BARANYUZWE COSMETICS Ltd in 2019 to produce herbal-based products for treatment of fungal infections of the scalp.
Already during her postgraduate studies, Natacha had discovered the therapeutic powers of Pidens Pilosa, a naturally occurring herbal plant in East Africa which has traditionally been used to treat various ailments. Due to intensive research, she was able to formulate a Bidens Pilosa hair shampoo and patented it at the Rwanda Development Board Intellectual Property Office. The product is a welcome relieve to women in Rwanda and beyond as the current alternatives are expensive and hardly effective.
After having set up her business, Natacha decided that she needed more expertise on how to produce high-quality products. Therefore, she partook in a six-week training on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) for herbal and traditional medicines offered by the EAC Secretariat via the GIZ SEAMPEC programme to entrepreneurs in all EAC Partner States in late 2020.
In 2022, over one year after the training, we wanted to hear from Natacha, how it has helped her business.
One thing is obvious – her product portfolio is growing. Already in 2020, Natacha had ventured into hand sanitizer production by blending ethanol and the Pidens Pilosa extract. The combination proved effective and has been licensed by both Rwanda Food and Drug Authority and the Rwanda Standards board. According to Natacha, the sanitizer has become so popular that it is now the brand of choice in most weddings and is being widely distributed in the country.
Natacha also used the training to improve the quality of her products even as she expanded her business. She stresses, “What I learned is that for high-quality products, you need highly qualified personnel. Since the training, I hired two laboratory analysts and make sure that my staff is constantly trained.” By now, Natacha is employing ten staff members.
Furthermore, Natasha notes, “Through the training, I realised that I cannot be competitive on the East African market with the rudimental instruments I had been using prior." Now, Natacha is using validated equipment to produce high-quality products. Additionally, she has established close working relations with the Rwanda Standards Board, so that she is always up to date on latest developments and can adjust accordingly.
Another aspect of the training was the importance of self-inspection. Since then, if there are any issues during production, Natacha identifies and solves them herself before the product goes on the market. “For each batch number, I have a quality control laboratory in place that checks the batch. The laboratory analyses basic parameters and guarantees high-quality products. If anything is missed, documentation allows to always link back to any specific batch.”
All of this has benefited Natacha’s business. Not only did she just start another new product line – solid soaps for different uses such as showering, hand washing, floor cleaning or laundry – she is also already thinking about developing her own line of drinking water.
Due to her high-quality products, Natacha has raised interest of exporters so that her products can be found in other EAC Partner States. Whilst for now, Natacha herself is only selling in Rwanda, expansion to the rest of EAC – including its newest member DRC – is already on the table.
What a great success story!
The global market for traditional medicines is growing and represents an opportunity for East African manufacturers. Some well-known medicines that are currently in use have been derived from plant sources such as Antimalarials. The EAC has a rich source of biodiversity and a strong history on the use of traditional medicines among its population. But efforts to incorporate the knowledge of traditional medicines into modern healthcare and ensure its quality, safety and efficacy standards has been a challenge. Despite the requirement to follow GMP standards for production of traditional and herbal medicines, not all companies that produce these products comply with international GMP standards and not all regulators understand international best practises when it comes to regulation of the herbal products. Given the importance of the herbal sector to the EAC region and its potential to improve public health and promote economic development, the online GMP Training Course was aiming to solve these challenges.
Learn more about Natacha’s company under https://baranyuzwe.com/.