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Export of natural ingredients benefits local communities in South Africa

Many cosmetic products used in Europe are based on biodiversity and are inspired by traditional use of plants from local biodiversity of communities around the world. For example, Tsonga women in South Africa use marula oil as a moisturising body lotion. The oil is now used in Dr Jackson’s 01 skin cream in Europe. Other examples from South Africa exist, such as Baobab oil. Many European consumers are on the look-out for such exciting new products. Bringing new ingredients with inspiring stories to the market can bring big benefits to South Africa, to the entrepreneurs marketing these ingredients in Europe, to workers in their factory and to communities supplying them with the raw materials, often from remote rural areas with few other income generating opportunities.

“ProFound helped me understand what natural ingredients companies need in order to do business and how this relates to access and benefit sharing. I can use this in my work to create a better business enabling environment. ProFound has connected me to the right stakeholders in the sector to do so.”

– Preshantie Naicker-Manick (Department of Environmental Affairs South Africa)

Negotiating access to community knowledge

Unfortunately, there are still few products from South Africa on the market. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS), which has been signed by both South Africa and the European Union, mandates that any company wanting to market products based on traditional knowledge needs to negotiate access to that knowledge with the community who developed this knowledge. They also need to share benefits with the community. In potential this means additional income for communities, in practice its  implementation in South Africa makes it difficult for local entrepreneurs to comply and bring their products to the market. In this way, communities also do not get any benefits from sales of the product.

“ There has never been a more challenging time to take a natural product to market. I believe that ABS is the future of “fair trade” and that “fair trade” certifications will become irrelevant as ABS gains understanding and momentum around the world. ProFound has offered me a platform to share my experiences with becoming ABS compliant. My experiences can help other stakeholders to develop policies which enable entrepreneurs to do business. And it is these businesses that we need to offer a better future to rural communities in South Africa.

– Sarah Venter (Founder of Ecoproducts)

All on board to enable natural ingredients business

ProFound, within the scope of CBIs natural ingredients programme in South Africa, works with a variety of ministries, companies, business associations and universities in South Africa to develop an export strategy for natural ingredients. The  purpose of this strategy is create an enabling environment for companies to do business and start exporting. The implementation of the Protocol in South Africa is a key issue to be tackled in this strategy. This requires improved coordination between companies and relevant ministries, ‘simplifying’ complex implementation mechanisms and providing simple tools and resources to help the private sector, in South Africa and Europe, understand and comply.

This will make it easier for local companies to develop and market products based on traditional use and bring them to the market – with the associated benefits for communities in rural areas.

“ On our request ProFound identified and activated relevant stakeholders in the natural ingredients sector in South Africa: ministries of trade and industry, environment, science and technology, and private sector stakeholders such as companies and associations. ProFound’s experience and capabilities in bringing them together through strategic conferences resulted in a common understanding of what the sector needs to export to Europe and develop a vision on how to get there
– Dirk-Jan Zegelaar (CBI Programme Manager South Africa)

ProFound Solutions for a natural ingredients sector strategy

  • Business Planning: Identification of relevant stakeholders, including companies, industry associations, ministries and goverrnment agencies, service providers, financial institutions and universities.
  • Organising sector conferences in South Africa to bring together stakeholders to identify and priorise issues and develop solutions.
  • Developing a joint strategy with stakeholders for the natural ingredient sector in South Africa, with key actions, responsibilities and timeline.