Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic LJBILJE starts producing hand sanitizer; Sweden/USAID FARMA II project helps brand it.

Frequently disinfecting hands became a must after the COVID-19 pandemic started.  But due to high demand, antiseptics are sometimes in short supply.

Responding to the COVID-19, and in an effort to satisfy the need for antiseptics, organic cosmetics producer LJBILJE from Ljubinje, in Eastern Hercegovina, started producing hand sanitizer that does two things; it disinfects hands and nourishes the skin. A big win-win in these peculiar times.

More importantly, this new antiseptic is helping to ease shortages and is making it possible for more people to have access to this new necessity. Being a socially responsible company, LJBILJE has already donated the sanitizers to their employees and several business partners, while Ljubinje hospital received a larger donation.

Rapid Development with Fast-tracked Approval

Slobodanka Popović, of LJBILJE, which normally produces some 250 different products from organic medicinal and aromatic plants, and engages some 25 farmers and 100 collectors in the process, says that in this fast developing situation they had to react quickly.

“We really did not have much time to wrap our heads around this. As the coronavirus started spreading, antiseptics and disinfectants became scarce. Being a producer of organic cosmetics and knowing how to produce an antiseptic, we felt the need to do something.

“We did not have the antiseptics among our listed products so once we put the formula together we had to reach out to the Republika Srpska Ministry of Health to get the permission to produce and sell this new product.” Slobodanka notes that the Ministry reacted quickly and that they got the permissions through a fast track procedure.

Nourishes skin and smells great

LJBILJE makes their antiseptics pleasant to use by enriching them with organic lavender, sage and immortelle hydrolytes and glycerin, which gives them great smell while nourishing your skin.

“We were just starting to develop new labels for our products and the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project was helping us while improving our online marketing, when this COVID-19 situation happened. So with their assistance, we also rapidly developed labels for our new antiseptics and we shipped the first batch out in the first week of April,” says Slobodanka.

LJBILJE has informed their regular buyers that include pharmacies and retail shops about the availability of the new products and orders are starting to pour in. They can now produce over two thousand antiseptics a day packaged in 100 ml to 1 liter containers.

In 2017 Sweden/FARMA II project helped LJBILJE purchase a vacuum homogenizer, an aquatic bath and a dozer. This helped LJBILJE to increase its production and export creams and lotions, while engaging more farmers and collectors in the process. Previous assistance certainly helped prepare the company for this current situation.