Prickly pear oil – the elixir of youth

August 9, 2021

As natural beauty continues to transform the global beauty industry, prickly pear seed oil has become a highly sought-after skincare ingredient. Grown in several regions of Tunisia, its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties are driving popularity of this thorny fruit. Safa Ayari from Kef, is one of a growing number of young Tunisian entrepreneurs tapping into the natural cosmetics market. In 2020 she launched SAFA – a brand of natural cosmetics based solely on the benefits of prickly pear seed oil.

After graduating in Agronomy, Safa studied the benefits of plants for the body and health. Rather than generalising in the production of cosmetics, she chose to focus on a niche product that she considered to be a precursor in the natural cosmetics sector and with great potential in Tunisia thanks to its abundance and ease of access on the territory.

“prickly pear seed oil has enormous potential in the cosmetics sector. It is very much in demand for its anti-wrinkle benefits. In Tunisia and internationally, prickly pear oil is now considered an elixir of youth.”

Safa started her entrepreneurial journey through the Agripreneur 2.0 project, before gradually launching her production. When she joined the Mashrou3i’s support program for start-ups, she was coached by experts who identified her needs and then helped her to draw up her company’s legal status.

In 2021, Safa benefited from an intensive 20-day training course through Mashrou3i, during which she learned how to produce natural cosmetics, saponification techniques, and the extraction of essential oils, including prickly pear oil.

“This training has helped me a lot. I learned all the techniques of extraction of essential and vegetable oils, and filled gaps I had in my skills. Through this training, I received personalised coaching and thanks to that today I am able to offer a better-quality product.”

As an agronomist, the ambitious entrepreneur has also developed her brand with products and food supplements such as draining drinks, prickly pear seed powder and jellies, which she presents at some specialised trade fairs and on social networks.

“For the moment, I market all my products through social networks. This allows me to reach a wider category of consumers in other regions of Tunisia. I send my products today from the south to the north of the country.”

Currently, the young entrepreneur is trying to develop her business through the purchase of oil processing and production machines in order to increase her productivity. This will also allow her to create new permanent jobs, in addition to the seasonal jobs she already has for the collection and processing of prickly pears.

In the framework of a joint work between the UNIDO-implemented projects, Safa will also receive training and support on her integration into the prickly pear value chain through the project PAMPAT 2.