Muna Magan : the seeds of women’s emancipation

Nutritionist and holding an MBA in securities, Investments and wealth management Muna Magan is the founder of Riyan Organics, a successful company selling natural products for skin and hair care, made from local plants and herbs from Somalia.

At her farm in Haro-Hadley village, 50 km north of Hargeisa, Somalia, Muna Magan grows her own organic plants and herbs, such as aloe vera and moringa. After graduating in science and nutrition from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom in 2004, and10 years’ worth of experience both in the European and International market, she then returned home to realize her dream of creating a company that manufactures natural products from local plants. Riyan Organics Cosmetics, born in 2016, employs 19 people, including 13 women, in areas ranging from planting to manufacturing, sales and marketing, paid between $60 and $200 a month. “I was born in Somalia, raised in Sweden where I spent most of my life. I traveled back home in 2014 to visit my mother.” The precariousness in which her compatriots find themselves, suffering from famine among other things, was a cause for concern.

“I wanted to work in a profession that would inspire me to make a difference in my local community and across Africa. I wanted to use the skills and experience I had acquired in Sweden and apply them in Somalia. As an entrepreneur, I wanted to start a new business, but one that would benefit the people, especially women. I have a mother who has spent most of her life fighting for women’s rights. She was supportive when I expressed the idea of giving up a stable job to start a new business in Somalia.”

Despite the high stakes and many challenges, Muna was not starting from scratch.

“Passionate about natural cosmetics, I decided to work on my own line of products, which would be 100% natural, organic and made in an ethical way. I found the ideal skin care range among the natural leaves found in Somalia. I started my business not wanting to make a profit, but rather to show women that they can earn a living independently.”

Riyan Organics Cosmetics is indeed a flourishing company in the field of natural products for skin and hair care, made from local plants and herbs. All steps in the value chain are locally sourced, from processing, packaging, distribution and sales. As she points out, one of her objectives when starting the company was to provide opportunities for women in the region, so they can become drivers of development.

“The children of a woman who can support herself will go to school. This benefits society as a whole. And it gives us the opportunity to help the country’s development and peace process.”

Muna is now aiming for export.

“I hope to sell these Somali products abroad so that we can compete with the rest of the world.”

To this end, Muna has implemented rigorous quality testing: a doctor from the Hargeisa hospital, involved in research and product testing, is responsible for ensuring that the ingredients do not harm the skin or the overall health.

“He believes our homemade products are much safer than those imported, some even have curative and health-promoting properties.”

The youth is the target audience. The biggest consumers of cosmetic care products by far, but often, due to lack of resources, they opt for the cheapest, most harmful product. That’s where Muna comes in.

 WIA 54 2018, Muna became our WIA Ambassador for Somalia !

An experience she had the opportunity to pass on at the end of September 2018  in Marrakesh, during the second World Forum of the Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative. “I was fortunate to partake and be selected for Program 54. As an entrepreneur.” With practical objectives. “Like any entrepreneur, I need partners, funding. The platform set up by WIA provides us with access to these resources. The Program 54 is a voice for all women entrepreneurs in Africa. Bringing all these women together so they feel valued, promoted, supported… It’s extraordinary! I learned so much in two days! In terms of networking, I have met people who believe and see the potential of Africa, which is a great encouragement to us. I have been inspired, strengthened, in my business and even in my life.”