Pelere Group is a company we at Anteja started working with during our work with GIZ in Uganda in 2019. Pelere is an established and growing producer of natural cosmetics, mostly focusing on shea butter products. Pelere was one of the first companies that have implemented any transparency solution in the Ugandan market. We followed up with them to check on their phy2app and transparency experience. The results were amazing and we decided to do an interview to share their experience with others. The following is an interview with Meleby from Pelere.
Meleby, please give the readers some background about you and your company Pelere?
Pelere group is a shea butter and cosmetics producer. Sandra Letio, the company CEO, started Pelere in 2012 with only 15 dollars. The company began by making soap that was sold door to door to shops and homes. At some point in the company’s early days, the founder visited her village in northern Uganda, where she met her 90-year-old grandmother and was amazed at how her skin was this great at that age. This is how she discovered shea butter. She tried the locally sourced shea butter for her hair and skin. The results were amazing. This is how the company came to producing shea butter cosmetics.
You are a cosmetics producer, mainly focusing on shea butter products. Can you please explain what makes your products special?
The shea used in our cosmetics is special because of the ingredients used in the production process. Northern Uganda shea is different from other shea found across Africa. The shea variety coming from this region, shea nilotica, has 25% more olein content than any other shea variety. The high olein content means that it absorbs and dissipates into skin and hair better than other shea butter.
The shea we use is carefully sourced from only the highest quality shea kernels to process and make the products. To ensure quality, we work directly with farmers. We provide high-quality seeds and other quality inputs and education that helps them grow the finest organic shea.
Our products are also special as they have a positive environmental and social impact. When we started with shea, there was a lot of deforestation in the northern parts of Uganda because people would burn trees to make charcoal for a living. Pelere now provides these people with a sustainable offtake of shea to refocus their activities away from environmentally destructive practices to sustainable organic farming. This way, we battle deforestation and provide the farming communities in Northern Uganda with a regular income.
Where are the natural ingredients used in the production of your products coming from, and how are they farmed?
The shea is farmed by small scale farmers in northwestern, northern, and northeastern parts of Uganda. Farmers receive high-quality seeds, training on how to grow the shea, and how to take care of the trees. The National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) of Uganda provides the seeds. These are natural and organic seeds that are passed on from NARO to Pelere to farmers.
How are your products processed? How do you make sure to keep the natural qualities of your products?
When shea is harvested and sorted for the best shea kernel, they are transported in a cooled and hygienic environment to preserve the natural and organic characteristics. They are transported to Kampala, where kernels are crushed and processed through high-quality machines certified by the America Shea Butter Institute. We sell pure organic shea butter, but we also have refined shea butter, to which we add beeswax for it to solidify to make it easier to use.
Before phy2app, have you implemented any transparency in your company?
Before phy2app, we did not practice any transparency communication besides the certifications that we obtained. It was not on our initial agenda, but we did see the value of providing transparency to our customers. We simply did not have a method to communicate it effectively to our customers.
How has phy2app helped you understand what transparency is and the critical transparency information chapters to be disclosed?
Before phy2app, the UNBS Q mark was the standard. Phy2app gave us a simple way to communicate more transparency than just the Q mark we shared before it. It has helped us understand that transparency means that customers can see more details about the product, how and where it was produced, and the positive impacts our company is making on the environment and the farming communities. It also allowed us to communicate that the product is genuine and produced by Pelere. It is now much easier for customers to connect with the brand since now they see the product story.
How was the process of implementing the phy2app transparency communication tool?
The process was not complicated. Phy2app is easy to use, but there were a few moments when we did not have a perfect understanding of some features. The phy2app team was very supportive and responsive to solve the issues to continue with the implementation effectively. Overall, the process was not very long, and this made sure we could offer transparency to our consumers in a relatively short time.
Now that you have implemented phy2app and have the phy2app labels with QR codes on your products, what has been your customer’s response?
The responses we received were very positive. Many were very impressed as they did not expect a Ugandan company to have such digital transparency. People appreciate the fact that we are openly showing how the products they enjoy are made. Recently at an expo, we were the only one to have a transparency solution, and when visitors of our booth scanned the phy2app QR code, we were able to make great sales simply because of it. It is an excellent tool for such events and building trust with potential customers, leading to more sales of our products.
Would you recommend other companies and brands to add transparency to their agenda?
Transparency is an essential aspect that other brands should consider. In our experience implementing phy2app transparency helped us a lot in undersetting what transparency is and how it can effectively be implemented and communicated. Transparency will give a special connection and trust between customers and the brand and is an excellent way to stand out from the competitors. In conclusion, I would be very much inclined to recommend transparency and phy2app tool to communicate transparency effectively.
Pelere Group has successfully implemented phy2app to communicate their transparency information to a wider customer base in an effective way. They are building trust in their brand and are enjoying all the other benefits of being a transparent brand. If you wish to do the same, please express interest using this form, and we will be happy to assist you in implementing phy2app.