AlmaDerm responds to the COVID-19 pandemic; Sweden/USAID FARMA II project helps it meet international standards.

Cooperation between the Mountain Rescue Service (MRS and organic cosmetics, AlmaDerm, might seem odd until you consider them in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

With the pandemic outbreak, AlmaDerm, from Kladanj, Central Bosnia and Herzegovina, started producing and donating alcohol-based disinfectants and antiseptics. MRC volunteers delivered them to those in need, mainly elderly people and other vulnerable groups.

Tradition and goodwill

“We are a family business with some ten years of tradition in the production of the organic cosmetics,” says the AlmaDerm’s Haris Čamdžić.  "Even before the pandemic, we used to produce the conifer-based antiseptics. But as the World Health Organization proscribed the use of alcohol-based disinfectants, we adapted and in mid-March started producing those as well.”

Shortly after producing some 2,000 liters of the new disinfectant, AlmaDerm partnered up the MRS, which already had its volunteers helping out the weakest amongst us. The MRS delivered antiseptics to 200 addresses so far.

But this is not where the story ends. “We are now continuing to donate antiseptics as we get informed by the MRS about the needs of the people out there. Also, we have donated to the Health Center in Vogošća and other institutions. We even donated some two to three hundred antiseptics at our shop,” explains Haris.

Further to this, and to make their products more affordable, they lowered the price of all hygiene products by 20 percent, and of all other products by 10 percent.

Sales and exports

While AlmaDerm production is based in Kladanj, their domestic shops are located in Sarajevo. Two out of three shops had to be closed and one is working shorter hours. But this is where Facebook, Instagram, and their online shop kick in. They are active on social media which they use to promote their products, but there too, they organize lotteries and people win products for free.

"Usually we sell about 20 percent of our products online and we think this will increase with time. We opened a shop in the Global Village in Dubai, and also in Riyadh. In addition, we are in the process of getting eleven products certified for export to the EU. So online sales might also service these markets," says Haris.

AlmaDerm currently exports almost 30 percent of their product and are looking to increase that to 80.

The Sweden/USAID FARMA II project support is helping them in that regard. The project provided a dry kiln and herbs cutting machine and is enabling them to meet international quality standards. When they were just starting up in 2013, a previous Sweden/USAID funded project equipped them with an oil distiller, which enabled them to produce their first soaps. Today, they are paying it forward.