In the world of entrepreneurship, inspiration often arises from personal challenges and a burning desire to make a difference. Such is the case of Chebet Ng’ok, the founder of Harriet Botanicals.
Her journey from the corporate hustle of London’s investment banking scene to becoming a champion of women’s health through herbal remedies is both fascinating and inspiring.
Chebet’s journey began with a problem faced by countless women worldwide – debilitating menstrual cramps.
While working in London, her life was overshadowed by the recurring pain that made it impossible to perform her best at work.
She tried various allopathic and alternative remedies, but the pain persisted, leading her to question whether she would ever find relief.
Her struggle took a significant turn when she returned to Kenya and encountered an aunt who blended herbs to help alleviate her pain.
This seemingly magical solution not only provided Chebet with much-needed relief but also ignited the spark for what would eventually become Harriet Botanicals.
“I did not start Harriet Botanicals as a business; I started it as a means of service to help women manage their menstrual pain,” explains Chebet.
Her journey wasn’t initially motivated by profits, but by a profound desire to assist women who, like her, had suffered from debilitating pain.
The idea was to provide a natural and effective solution where conventional medicine had failed.
Her flagship product, Arorwet, was born from her experiences and the needs of friends with similar health concerns.
“I wouldn’t quantify the initial stages of my company in terms of financial investments. All I did was bootstrapping. Friends that had used Arorwet did the person-to-person marketing. This means that I had demand for the product on a tangent. I started selling Arorwet in 500ml and one-litre bottles.” she says.
The demand for her herbal remedies grew, and Chebet transitioned from operating out of her home to securing a physical presence in Nairobi’s central business district.
Formalizing Harriet Botanicals came next.
In February 2018, she obtained certification from the Culture Ministry, aligning her business with the necessary regulations and standards.
Safety was a top priority, leading Chebet to collaborate with the University of Nairobi’s Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology to validate her products.
The positive results of the safety testing opened the door to mass production. Harriet Botanicals now offers a range of products that address issues related to blood cleansing, reproductive health, and the overall well-being of its customers.
They serve approximately 3,500 clients each month through their stores in five Kenyan towns and various stockists.
Taking traditional herbal remedies to international markets has not been without its challenges.
The cost of shipping posed a significant barrier, and the general skepticism surrounding traditional medicine presented an additional hurdle.
In response, Harriet Botanicals developed special packaging for exports and adapted product names to make them more appealing to foreign authorities.
Chebet’s entrepreneurial journey has taught her valuable lessons. She emphasizes the importance of having a clear purpose in business.
For Harriet Botanicals, that purpose was to help women manage pain and initiate conversations about the safety and effectiveness of traditional medicine.
She believes that understanding the value of herbal remedies is crucial, as even modern medicine often relies on natural herbs.
Looking back, Chebet takes pride in the positive impact her products have had on thousands of women.
She envisions a future where herbal remedies are widely appreciated, recognizing the vital role these natural solutions play in promoting overall health and well-being.