Africa takes on the World

A small South African company has caught the eye of the global cosmetics industry by asking ‘why so little of the wealth of African botanicals is being utilized in product development’?

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Adolf Joubert

Afrinatural, which exhibited for the frst time this year at in-cosmetics in London, is the brain child of a group of passionate South Africans, led by CEO, Adolf Joubert. He says, ‘International buyers are slowly learning to trust entities like ourselves to bridge the gap for their growth into Africa and the rest of the world. As a bonus, rural communities in Africa are realising that trading presents them with more sustainable benefts than the traditional aid programmes.’

Joubert is challenging brand owners and manufacturers to open their minds to these new possibilities, to engage with local producers of plant-based raw materials and unlock the wealth of opportunity Africa can offer them.

A representative from Here2Grow – a cosmetics and home care lab based in the UK – was highly impressed with Afrinatural’s offering at the trade show, and reported that ‘the company is helping to put Africa on the worldwide industry map’.

Ingredients for various industries

Afrinatural and its predecessor have been operating since 1998. The company has grown to be one of the leading suppliers of botanical ingredients sourced from all over Africa to international wholesalers and retailers in the phytomedicine, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, cosmetics, personal care, and health food industries.

Since 2013, it has placed immense effort on developing international markets for cold pressed oils and butters. Oils with exotic names like Marula, Baobab, Kalahari Melon, Manketti/Magongo, Ximenia, Mahuhu, Yangu, Tamanu, and recently, Argan, and butters such as Mafura, Kombo, Kokum and Shea – all with exciting application prospects – have been high on Afrinatural’s marketing agenda.

Yet this has not detracted from its original offering of raw botanicals for the phytomedicine and nutraceutical industries. These include:

  • rose hip tea, which like rooibos, is high in antioxidants
  • Pelargonium sidoides, an excellent bronchial remedy, which has been patented in EU as a pharma solution
  • the immune builder Sutherlandia frutescens, which is known to be excellent in support of treatments for AIDS, TB, malaria, diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Sceletium for stress relief
  • Bulbine latifolia – used internationally in sport nutrition as a muscle builder and testosterone enhancer
  • almost any other South African and African botanical known to the market.

Tackling the challenges

Joubert is concerned about the regulatory landscape, both locally and abroad. ‘The Medicines Control Council is placing unreasonable pressure on the complementary medicines and health products industry,’ he comments, ‘while the incapability of the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Science and Technology to find effective ways of managing and implementing BioProspecting legislation is hampering trade. At the current rate, these issues could kill most of the existing and potential economic opportunities. In addition, South Africa’s dysfunctional bio-prospecting permit system is steering European product developers away from using botanical ingredients sourced from South Africa.’

Despite these challenges, he is optimistic and is passionate about Africa and its potential. Joubert is also positive about the prospects of contributing to rural economic growth and job creation, and says, ‘the sky could be the limit’.

‘South Africa is not yet contributing 0.1 percent of the world demand for botanical solutions, while we have more than 10 percent of the world’s plant species,’ he explains. ‘International demand is growing at double digits, while local industries import approximately 80 percent of their requirements from outside of South Africa.’ ·