Start-up organic company eyes international market, one year on |07 December 2022
• Targets becoming a small and medium-sized business
Users of organic products have for a year now been exposed to a new brand of products that hit the market under the name Raspay Seychelles and offers different types of cream and lotion for various ailments from toothache to skin rash.
Raspay Seychelles, the brainchild of Rashid Mousmie, 38, of Mont Buxton is making an impression on the local market, and the young entrepreneur said one year down the line, he is content with his products and client base.
The family business is presently producing 27 products, the majority made out of neem plant, which according to Mr Mousmie is efficient against a variety of skin diseases, eczema, septic sores, and infected burns.
He also uses aloe vera as a main ingredient, for its medicinal properties, black seed, cinnamon and clove, as well as ajwa, a type of dates from Saudi Arabia.
Among its products, Raspay Seychelles produces a neem cream for the body, an anti-dandruff shampoo and conditioner, whose base is also neem and naturally softens the hair, body cream which reduces stretch marks, a pain relief balm for joint and muscle pain, which according to Mr Mousmie is popular among the elderly.
He has also introduced a new aloe vera body lotion, which works as a whitening cream, an aloe vera oil for dandruff, baby oil, and a clove shampoo.
However, his number one selling product is a Sinus relief lotion.
“It is very effective to relieve sinus-related symptoms included congested nose, blocked ear or headache. It works for both adults and children and people like it because they see the result compared to other sinus relief methods they have used in the past,” says Mr Mousmie.
The young entrepreneur, who is assisted by his wife Mariam, says a year on, Raspay Seychelles is a well-established name locally and he is getting great reviews from customers, whose testimonies are posted on social media, and word of mouth has enticed new customers to try Raspay Seychelles
“I get a lot of referrals. We got a lot of visibility through mainstream media especially television, which has allowed people to know about us and sale shot up after that. And of course, customers who saw results have been our biggest advertisers, because word of mouth has helped to popularise our products. Demand is so high that we sometimes struggle to keep up with production,” he says.
Mr Mousmie says the company has to ensure it maintains the formula, but he is confident about the process of production.
He says it was important to guarantee the same final outcome by maintaining the formula in all production.
Raspay Seychelles is also eyeing international market and its popular sinus relief lotion is presently on a trial basis at a South African private clinic.
Mr Mousmie who was there recently to meet up with the representatives says so far, the feedback has been positive.
The company is also getting requests from Mauritius and Kenya as well as venturing into the Dubai and the Ugandan markets, where there is also a high demand for organic products.
“Some people focus on products and not the process, meaning they eventually lose the quality of the product. I can tell you that so far, our products have reached Scotland, France, England, Malaysia, Cameroon, South Africa and these are from people who have bought their products while on holiday here and reverted with positive feedback,” says Mr Mousmie.
Despite all the positive feedback, Raspay Seychelles is still a start-up and according to Mr Mousmie, he still faces challenges, one being capital to grow.
The entrepreneur who says he has already been through a big shock in business where he lost everything, and had to start from scratch, says he wants to ensure his business is secure financially at all times.
“I do not want to take risks by borrowing from banks and incur costs that my business may not be able to handle later. I have seen friends in manufacturing taking out heavy loans who today find themselves liquidating parts of their assets to pay the bank because they were running after the growth. I am focusing on a gradual growth that I can keep and maintain at a pace that does not destroy the business,” he says.
Raspay Seychelles has now applied for a R200,000 under the Seed Capital Grant Scheme, which Mr Mousmie says will go towards purchasing certain material.
“Part of the plan is to invest in certain materials that will allow me to have a better production capacity without compromising the quality of the product. Because I am using traditional means and methods, I want to purchase equipment and boost up production without compromising my traditional method,” he explains.
The entrepreneur who has also experienced his shares of challenges to start and remain operational, appeals to government to relook at the way they assist start-ups and to come up with strategies that will not burden them but rather encourage them to remain in business, by removing red tapes, training civil servants to understand entrepreneurs’ mindset especially when they approach these offices for assistance and information.
“I cannot remember how many times I have decided on giving up but I have adopted a philosophy in business that is to always remember the reason that got me started in the first place,” says Mr Mousmie.
Meanwhile, Raspay Seychelles says that with a shift in people’s mindset from pharmaceutical to natural products, it wants to capitalise on this and grow from a start-up to a small or medium business in the next three years. With all his products licensed, his next move would be to have them tested and certified internationally as the Seychelles Bureau of Standards does not have the capacity to do this presently.
“The size of the market here is not a problem, I can make the desired money. But I like to challenge myself and the international market is where the money and exposure is, where you can have your products stand alongside big names like NIVEA and others. This is where you challenge yourself and this is my dream,” says Mr Mousmie.
Raspay Seychelles’ products sell between R75 to R250 and the company has a personalised approach, delivering free of charge to its clients around the country.
Photos by Louis Toussaint