The inspiring self-employment story of a graduate

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By Doreen Parkshard

In the world of beauty, more and more people are turning to the ancient, natural, and science-based methods to improve their appearance.

The trend has increased the use of castor oil for hair and skin care. The oil is believed to have the ability to treat damaged hair, add shine to dull skin, and prevent aging – hence it’s one of the most sought-after oils.

The product is a vegetable oil pressed from castor seeds – and is used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes. In Tanzania, the Dodoma region is the main producer of castor oil while Brazil, India and Argentina are the main producers in the world.

Amelia Mbalazi, 22, a castor oil user herself – a graduate of the Institute of Accountancy Arusha – saw the opportunity in the castor oil mania and decided to invest in the business.

Amelia started using the oil to treat hair breakage and dandruff in 2019. She got the oil from her sister, who promised her that it would solve her problem.

“My sister gave me a small bottle of castor oil that she claimed would solve my damaged hair problem. At first I doubted her; But once I tried it, I never wanted to stop. The results were clear three months after the first application. At the time, however, it was quite difficult to get hold of the oil, ”says Amelia.

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A business opportunity

She says a month after she started using castor oil, her friends noticed the change. They asked her what product she was using on her hair as it looked healthier. The positive comments people made about her hair made Amelia see an opportunity in the product that was not readily available in the area.

She did a lot of research on how to get the oil and started the business. Her friends were her first customers. She later found that some traders were tampering with the oil but claimed it was pure castor oil.

The new entrepreneur saw this as a threat to her business and felt obliged to find a solution. She didn’t want to lose her customers. After wondering what to do, the idea came to her to make the oil herself. She learned how to make castor oil through YouTube tutorials, online readings, and advice from local producers.

This is how “Ammy Castor Oil” was born – and Amelia says that the quality of the product has earned her the trust of her customers, which is growing day by day. Due to the high demand for her oil, Amelia is currently in the process of gaining certification from the Tanzania Bureau of Standards.

“Some dealers mix castor oil with other oils, which sometimes makes it ineffective. That’s why I decided to produce my own oil. I don’t add chemicals that could cause it to lose its natural value. Because of this, I get new customers every day who use Ammy castor oil for the best, most effective results, ”she says. “For me, quality and customer satisfaction are very important. It’s not about profit, it’s about customer satisfaction … And we all know what that means, ”notes Amelia.

With a team of three employees, Amelia produces castor oil for both beauty and health care. She currently works from home – she hasn’t opened a store yet – and delivers almost everywhere.

Entry into the job market

When Amelia finished her formal studies last month, she decided to devote her full attention to business. Equipped with a degree in economics and finance – plus two years of entrepreneurial experience – she was confident that everything would turn out fine. She decided to become self-employed because she knew that it would not be easy to find a job in the already saturated job market.

Starting with a Sh80,000 as capital, Amelia already sees a bright future ahead of her – with more and more people turning to using castor oil for the tangible benefits. It receives an average of 150 orders per week, with different customer needs. It sells the smallest bottle of 120 ml for 4,500 Sh, a 200 ml bottle for 8,000 Sh and a 250 ml bottle for 10,000 Sh. A five liter container sells for Sh50,000. Their largest package – a 20 liter container – sells for Sh200,000.

This most sought-after vegetable oil helps repair and prevent hair damage, treat dandruff and other scalp problems. It is a hair and skin moisturizer and contains anti-aging properties. Castor oil also cares for cracked, dry and stressed skin, fights fungi, promotes hair growth and is also good for healthy fingernails.

“The benefits are endless. The oil can also be used internally to treat constipation and other ailments, ”she adds.

She is happy not to be dependent on her parents and lives in Dar es Salaam for her daily maintenance.

Thanks to her castor oil business, Amelia can also pay the house rent. Although she runs the business for a living, Amelia says she also cares about the interests of women. Their goal is to help women grow healthy hair instead of turning to low cuts like many others. Because of this, she has packages that she is sure any woman who takes care of her hair can afford.

Amelia has customers in Mwanza, Dodoma, Arusha Morogoro and Dar es Salaam. It has agents in these regions who buy at wholesale prices in order to resell them. She also supplies individual customers whom she reaches through her social media platforms. Most of their clients are women who use castor oil as a natural remedy for hair and skin, as well as for massage.

Social media advantage

Amelia says social media has taken her business to the next level. She wins new customers almost every day via Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. She has 4.5 thousand friends on Facebook, 9 thousand Instagram followers – and every time she posts her products she receives more than 500 viewers on her WhatsApp status.

Amelia says that castor oil is easily available today. But quality is at stake as many sellers add many additional ingredients, such as coconut oil, which lower the oil’s natural standard.

“Compared to the past, the oil is now easily accessible – back from 2018. It was difficult to access at the time because it had to be imported. Today investment in the business has increased, hence its availability, ”she says.

When it comes to competition in the market, Amelia says: “It’s tough”. They have coped with asking affordable prices, which makes their products more attractive to customers. “That has increased my sales as people buy according to their budget,” she says.

Hellen Paul, a regular user of Ammy castor oil, admits that the oil worked wonders on her hair. She started doing it in early February this year and is now proud of her thick, long, healthy hair. The oil also treated her itchy scalp and dandruff.

Amelia is proud of her progress and is pleased that she took the risk to invest in the company. She prides herself on being confident enough to become a real producer through the role of a castor oil customer. Your economics and finance degree comes in handy when it comes to managing your investments. She looks forward to growing the business by attracting more agents across the country. She sees that her business will cross borders in the near future – and create more jobs for young people.

Aneth Anthony is also a user of Ammy Castor Oil – and is now an agent for the product.

“Amelia happens to be my friend and I’ve been an agent for her products since May of this year. I decided to become an agent after being impressed with the quality and benefits of Ammy Castor Oil. The price is affordable and I make some money as his agent, ”says Aneth.


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