14 May 2018
Medea, Algeria
Organic cleaning products and cosmetics

Nature offers people a number of natural resources that facilitate their daily life. These properly processed products are our best allies in the daily life, either in the agro-food industry, pharmaceutical industry, or even cosmetics. In Algeria, a woman examined a kind of cactus that is not widely used and rich in beneficial properties. Its vegetable oil is particularly rare and useful for the body.

In the province of Medea, Algeria, you could see a green band that extends to the horizon. A quick look would suggest that these are just simple cacti. Although they belong to the Cactus family, they have their own name: prickly pears. This kind possesses many virtues that are often unknown. Ferrah Reguia who is originally from Medea, has not missed its properties and benefits and started her research to discover what’s behind this fruit, its flowers and its “snowshoes”: these long stems of flattened and oval forms, pricked with long spines.

Thirty-year-old Ferrah Reguia, has a bachelor’s degree in biology and two masters: a Euro-Maghreb master’s in process engineering, and one in life sciences and phototherapy. She justifies selecting these fields by saying that she is “very interested in the benefits of plants and their valorization in medicine and cosmetics.”

Her thesis subject in 2015 focused on the extraction and the valorization of prickly pear oil, during which, the idea of a green enterprise came to her mind.

“Seeing all these non-used plants in [my] region, I started my research to study the extraction capacity of this fruit and its health benefits,” says Reguia.

What she discovered reassured her main idea: this fruit offers multiple possibilities. The advantage of this fruit is that it can be entirely utilized, starting with the fruit, to the flowers, and the leaves. Reguia then started a process of extracting its vegetable oil, that is of interest for health and cosmetic sectors for its anti-aging and moisturizing properties of the skin as it is rich in essential fatty acids. The oil of prickly pears is extracted by applying cold pressure and without any chemical treatment.

It is also used to reduce the amount of waste that happens while extracting. What remains after the extraction can be easily transformed into seed meal, which is also used in the sectors of agro-food and cosmetics.

The environmental approach is not the only adopted approach  Reguia had on the project. It is also a part of the societal and economic approach. This young woman aims at reducing social inequalities and unemployment in her region by offering essential jobs to achieve a proper management of her enterprise. She estimates that a 100 employees will be needed to properly manage her enterprise.

Following the SwitchMed training, she was able to integrate environmental, economic and societal into her project. She is one of the eco-entrepreneurs whose idea has attracted the attention of the SwitchMed jury panel responsible for selecting the candidates who benefit from further coaching over eight months.

She is currently in the incubation phase, where she is working on her green business plan.

 

For more information check Reguia’s Linkedin profile.

The story was originally published on the SwitchMed wesbite.

 

Prickly Pears Organic Cleaning Products & Cosmetics
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