Farmers on cultivation area harvest aromatic plants (Congo)

Congo High-quality oils for the cosmetics industry and medical applications

Sub-Saharan Africa
Sustainable supply chains Education & Training

The global demand for certified organic essential oils is continuously increasing. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), there is a long tradition of growing aromatic plants. However, without support, local farmers in the Ituri district, a region shaken by civil war between 1999 and 2009, have been unable to meet demand. In its global search for suppliers, the French company Nateva came into contact with the local company Avituri, which resulted in a partnership. As part of the develoPPP programme funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), the two partners and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH established structures that today offer Avituri's employees a variety of social benefits and give Nateva access to the coveted raw material.

In the economically underdeveloped region around the town of Nioka there is great poverty, with many single women barely able to provide for themselves and their children as a result of the bitter civil war. The town, on the other hand, is surrounded by fertile fields that were once used to grow aromatic herbs but have since lain fallow. The Congolese company Avituri wanted to continue the old tradition, but needed support with the numerous preliminary steps, as the company had no experience in growing certain plants. Together with its main customer Nateva, a French supplier of native oils and flavourings for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, Avituri applied to develoPPP with the aim of creating income opportunities in the economically underdeveloped region and supplying Nateva with high-quality essential oils in the desired quality and quantity.

In order to quickly develop the cultivation and production of essential oils, the project partners implemented the following measures, among others, between 2012 and 2015 with a total project volume of around 340,000 euros: 

  • Establishment of the necessary infrastructure for the large-scale cultivation of the oil-bearing cranesbill geranium.  
  • Construction of an oil distillery and training of technicians.  
  • Supplementary cultivation of eucalyptus trees, the wood of which Avituri uses to fire the boilers of the distillery. 
  • Training of workers, preparation and implementation of organic and fair trade certification.  

Nateva contributed its expertise in international supply chains and staff know-how to the project. GIZ supported the project by providing material resources and expertise. 

The support from develoPPP has made it possible to increase yields in such a way that Avituri has been able to establish a profitable agro-industrial business. The three-year project provided the necessary start-up support for this.
Aurore Pellissier, Fair Trade Manager at Nateva
Plants grow on a cultivation area (Congo)
Nioka is surrounded by fertile land where aromatic plants were already cultivated in the 1940s and 1950s. The Congolese company Avituri wanted to revive this tradition. Photo: Nateva SAS
Sign saying "Pepiniere Geranium" placed on cultivation area (Congo)
Avituri now cultivates 200 hectares of leased land. On one fifth, the company grows geranium, while on the remaining land Avituri is experimenting with other aromatic plants. Photo: Nateva SAS

The partner company Avituri now employs 250 permanent staff and another 150 seasonal workers/suppliers, making it the largest employer in the region. Employees receive a fair wage for their work and support with school fees and health benefits. The money comes from a social fund that is linked to the amount of geranium sold. Thanks to certification, Avituri can now market its products at higher prices. In return, the French company Nateva has gained a reliable source of high-quality, organically grown geranium oil. Even after the end of the development partnership itself, Avituri has been able to increase production and the number of employees and suppliers.



The number of jobs at the partner Avituri was increased almost fivefold and 80 percent are women

Gear and stopwatch

Sale of 2,000 kg of geranium oil to Nateva in 2014

Three hands

For every kilogram of geranium oil sold, more than 11 percent of the sales price go into a social fund


Stacked coins

Expansion of capacities and thereby increase in revenues

Lightning and water droplet

Source of high quality, organically grown geranium oil developed

Woman working at a loom

develoPPP Classic

develoPPP Classic is aimed at medium-sized and large companies that want to invest sustainably in a developing or emerging country and expand their operational activities locally. Suitable projects receive technical and financial support of up to two million euros in public funding.

Nateva logo

Nateva SAS

Founded in France in 2005, the company is a producer of plant extracts and essential oils. Thanks to its close relationships with its producers, NATEVA can guarantee high quality and traceability.

GIZ logo

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

As a German federal enterprise, GIZ is a service provider in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education work for more than 50 years. It supports the economic development and promotion of employment and develops strategies for sustainable business together with the private sector. 

Aurore Pellissier
Aurore Pellissier Fair Trade Manager bei Nateva Nateva SAS
Annika Powitz
Annika Powitz Project Manager develoPPP Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH