Many people mostly know avocado as a food addition, like a salad, established to contain many nutrients that are good for our health. But to Alexandre Nshimiyimana, the fruit is more than just a snack, and uses its contents to make skincare products, like moisturisers and soap.
With his academic background in chemistry, he took a soap-making course in 2015, after which he started a business, with a starting capital of about Rwf 65,000. As a new entrepreneur, finding the market and winning customers’ trust didn’t come easy.
Sanit Wing, which he founded, located in Burera District, Northern Province, is a processing and manufacturing industrial company that produces a variety of oils, cosmetics and soaps from raw materials, mostly avocados.
The soap made from avocado oil, among other things.
He started with laundry soap bars and liquid detergents. However, the company, he says, chose to take a step back from making liquid soap, and started processing avocado oil to make cosmetics because ‘the market of liquid soap was already flooded with brands’.
Also, he says, the company’s decision to start processing avocado for skincare use came from the government’s ban of the importation of palm oil— the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, found in many supermarkets—citing the use of poor transportation and packing materials.
“This put pressure on the local market, and prices of palm oil skyrocketed. I then thought of ways to make vegetable oil locally to replace the palm oil.
The only solution was to make best use of the only oily plant that exists on Rwandan soil in all regions of the country. Rwanda produces avocado in abundance, roughly 141,000 metric tons every year. We became the official forerunners of avocado processing in Rwanda,” Nshimiyimana says.
When it comes to manufacturing cleansers, he says they focus on ‘cold process soap’ which is made by combining oils and sodium hydroxide lye (a strong alkaline liquor rich in potassium carbonate leached from wood ashes).
After producing the avocado oil, it is then blended with olive oil bought from local distributors. The blend of oils, he says, mixed with the lye, makes soft …….