Ancillar NombewuBy Ancillar Nombewu|November 1, 2020|7 Minutes|In Billionaire Tomorrow

Oil Is The Spur

If you are reading this, at some point in your life, you have been asked the question: “what do you want to be when you grow up”? You may have said a doctor, teacher, nurse, pilot or lawyer. But for Hanta Tiana Ranaivo Rajaonarisoa it wasn’t any of the above.

“I wrote that I wanted to be an entrepreneur without hesitation. It was important for me to be in this sector because since I was a teenager, I wanted to develop a natural para pharmaceutical product line made from plants from Madagascar,” says Rajaonarisoa, who was born and raised in the East African country.

Rajaonarisoa is a born entrepreneur; it is in her blood. She is from a family of entrepreneurs. Her father is an entrepreneur and so was her grandfather,  brothers and her godmother.

“When I was a child, while I was doing my homework, I could hear her getting back from work and I always told myself that I wanted to be an entrepreneur like her. It motivated me to do my best with my homework. I grew up with this entrepreneurship energy and dynamics and my family inspires me and encourages me a lot,” she says.

While she was studying towards a Business Administration degree at California State University, in 2009, Madagascar suffered a political crisis. She couldn’t afford tuition anymore which meant she had to return home at age 19.

She brought home with her an idea. She says she had noticed how people in the United States wanted to get back to nature and how people in Madagascar wanted to be more industrialised. It inspired her to start her business.

In 2011, she took over the family-owned unused essential-oil-making machine to start Bio Mada, now Flore Aroma, a company that produces essential oils, pure plant-based oils and natural para pharmaceutical products.

“Flore Aroma’s objective is to make essential oils and products made out of plants from Madagascar that help prevent diseases and improve personal hygiene,” says Rajaonarisoa.

“I wish that people in Africa realize the potential of the benefits that our plants have and that even when we start small, we can rapidly develop this industry as our plants are real treasures and have benefits that cannot be found elsewhere,” she adds.

The company’s production facility is located 200 km from Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, in a rural area and provides jobs for the people. It has produced a wide range of products such as mosquito repellents made out of citronella and pine through the recovery of green waste to help fight against malaria which is one of the biggest killers in Madagascar; air fresheners and body deodorants. They market 21 types of pure essential oils,  electric essential oil diffusers, 16 types of soaps, relaxing shower gels, shampoos, makeup removers, hair serums, balms, disinfectants, massage oils and much more.

That is why it is very important for me to develop the sourcing aspect, sustainable development and a national and international distribution network. We should profit from the benefits of these plants.

- Hanta Tiana Ranaivo Rajaonarisoa

“We are committed to sustainable development by limiting our impact on the environment by sorting and recycling waste, and the social and economic inclusion of young people by promoting their employment,” she says.

The company has won multiple awards and now supplies its products in Europe.

“It is an opportunity to promote the virtues of these plants and most of all, it is an opportunity to develop the sustainable development area of this sector…Our goal is to build schools for our communities with the help of our consumers and train farmers to farm in sustainable ways.”

The road here wasn’t easy.

When she started the business, she struggled with finding some plants and developing a distribution network for her products. It took years to find the right plants and to see a return on investment.

Rajaonarisoa, however, believes Africa should not export its raw materials to international luxury brands and then import the finished product at a premium. She says rather make it here for sale to the rest of the world at a profit.

“That is why it is very important for me to develop the sourcing aspect, sustainable development and a national and international distribution network. We should profit from the benefits of these plants,” she says.

She is already benefiting. Flore Aroma employs five full-time staff and 20 contractors. COVID-19 also meant a boom in sales of essential oils and hydroalcoholic gels as regular hand washing and sanitizing was enforced.

“As part of the fight against the spread of COVID-19, we have also collaborated with GALANA Madagascar, an oil distribution company, for the distribution of hydroalcoholic gels in buses and bush taxis throughout Madagascar in order to guarantee the continuity of transport operations in the best sanitary conditions,” she says.

Eight Startup lessons by Hanta Tiana Ranaivo Rajaonarisoa:

  1. Get business financial education
  2. Have different sources of income within your business
  3. Invest in your distribution network or marketing
  4. Spend less time on tasks you can delegate
  5. Be patient. Business success takes time
  6. Being strong means being aware of your weakness and knowing how to manage them
  7. Invest in online visibility
  8. Accept failure and learn from it, don’t be too hard on yourself