One of Rena Beverage Solutions’ hibiscus-based drinks. Picture: Facebook/@Renahibi
One of Rena Beverage Solutions’ hibiscus-based drinks. Picture: Facebook/@Renahibi

Health-conscious Ugandan entrepreneur sets her sights on global market

By Crispin Adriaanse Time of article published Oct 2, 2021

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Cape Town – A Ugandan entrepreneur aims to conquer the local market and expand globally with her hibiscus-based drinks.

Eleven years ago Regina Nakayenga established Rena Beverage Solutions at the age of 50 as a part of her retirement plan.

The business is premised on providing a product made from only organic ingredients, according to online business publication How We Made It In Africa and East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP).

Nakayenga stumbled upon the hibiscus plant on the recommendation of a friend, who explained its medicinal qualities. Having experienced the benefits of the hibiscus herself, the forward-thinking entrepreneur set about experimenting with the plant that is found in Uganda.

Today, Nakayenga produces a number of hibiscus-based products, such as tea, juice and wine.

Hibiscus is associated with multiple health benefits: it is rich in antioxidants, high in vitamin C, is sometimes used as a laxative, and is considered to have weight loss properties owning to its effect on the metabolism, according to Serifat Olatundun Salami and Anthony Jide Afolayan writing in the Journal of Food Quality 2020. The plant has also been proven to reduce cholesterol, hypertension and high blood pressure.

Health products are all the rage in Uganda according to Nakayenga, speaking to How We Made It In Africa, and her company brings in around US$7,000 a month.

“They have become our cash cow… It is really selling,” Nakayenga said.

“We will focus on getting more of our products to schools, health centres and clinics. Supermarkets are also growing and growing,” she said of the Ugandan market.

Nakayenga has also set her sights on the international market with plans to export her health-first products to Germany and the UK by the end of 2021.

More than 400 local hibiscus farmers provide Nakayenga with raw materials, which she scrutinises for their quality, especially considering that she is the chairperson of the Uganda Hibiscus Value Chain Development Association, EAWiBP revealed.

Nakayenga is a former lecturer on entrepreneurship, gender and microfinance at Kyambogo University, which sits on the banks of Lake Victoria, and holds multiple degrees from Uganda’s universities, as well as an MBA from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI), US-based non-profit Vital Voices revealed.

African News Agency (ANA)

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