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Company Reports - Nativa  

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Nativa

Nativa Ltd. strives to be the best

Jonny Williamson

The South African alternative and natural health company where quality and integrity are non-negotiable
Nativa Ltd. strives to be the best

 

Started in the late 1990s with one product literally being sold from the back of a garage by two entrepreneurs, no one could have predicted that Nativa would grow to become one of the leading players in the alternative and natural health market of Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently Nativa has 18 brands, over 170 SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units), and though predominantly operating within South Africa, has begun to expand its presence into the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The cultures of self-diagnosis and preventative medicine are rapidly spreading around the world and this has helped facilitate Nativa’s continuing growth, as the company’s CEO, Aadil Kalla explains:

“We live in the information age with people becoming far more informed, leading to complimentary and Over-The-Counter-type medicines growing at a much higher rate than traditional allopathic treatments. Coupled to this is the fact that people now want to be pro-active rather than reactive and are therefore more open to alternative and natural medicines.”

Integrity

Nativa’s first brand was ‘OsteoEze’, which remains one of its leading products, a natural joint-supplement which helps maintain and promote cartilage regeneration.  It was decided at the time that alternative medicines would be the sole focus of the company, a hallmark which endures to this day. Along with OsteoEze, Nativa’s other leading brands include ‘Lifegain’, energy booster ‘Turbovite’, respiratory infection, cold and flu defence ‘Linctagon’, dietary supplement ‘Replace’ and the ‘Nativa Complex Range’, helping to combat everything from allergies to heart disease.

Regardless of brand or end-user, a cornerstone of Nativa’s value system is the over-riding principle of integrity, something Kalla passionately champions:

“Integrity is critical to everything we do. If we launch a product or make a claim, our philosophy is that there must be no doubt that the product or claim is legitimate.”

Excellence

Nativa currently have 145 employees, the majority of which have been recruited from within local communities, something the company also feels very strongly about. As well as running a variety of staff training and development programs internally, the company sponsors those employees who wish to study externally, so long as it is career-related. So far this sponsorship has already seen three staff members attain MBA’s, and this is something the CEO would like to see grow in the future:

“Adding value to the company through the development of our people is another integral part of our value system, helping us as we strive for excellence.”

This strive for excellence has seen Nativa involved in a number of significant investments recently, all of which are geared towards getting the best of its workforce for the good of the company, and the best out of its products for the sake of its customers.

“We have substantially enlarged both our R&D and Regulatory departments because compliance is becoming a major part of the industry. We are being scrutinised on a national and international level by regulatory bodies as the industry becomes more structured. As the evidence surrounding raw materials is required to be more scientific than anecdotal to justify claims, things have become less flexible. So this has become a key area for our continuous improvement.”

Collaboration

Additionally Nativa has invested in a variety of new technologies, products and facilities, including state-of-the-art tablets for sales reps, an upgraded accounting system, a distribution facility close to the head office which opened a year ago and a majority stake in local homeopathic company CoMeD.

“Technology is always going to be important because it makes you so much more efficient,” explains Kalla. “What used to be drawn-out, complex processes have become far easier. For example our Sales Reps can now place orders while in stores with buyers, the order appears on our system and the process is done. In the past there would be a delay while the order was phoned through or faxed later in the day, now it is virtually instantaneous.”

Nativa’s distribution, for the most part, is through pharmacy channels, such as Dischem and Clicks; however there has been a rise in the traditional FMCG space with many major supermarket chains, such as Pick n Pay, Spar, Shoprite and Walmart currently developing in-store pharmacies.         

 Honesty

Globalisation has made the world smaller than ever; something Nativa has been taking advantage off through its well-trained procurement and regulatory department, (with most of the manufacturing being handled by third-parties). 

“Distribution is no longer difficult,” says Kalla. “If someone in a far off country places an order, depending on the size, we can simply put it on a plane or container ship and get it out to them.”

As a result, the company is constantly looking at new markets and better ways of broadening its distribution base, not just within South Africa, but by expanding into territories such as Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

“As a minimum, we are aiming to double our business in five years,” Kalla concludes. “How are we going to achieve this? By focusing on what we do best, and most importantly, by living our value system of integrity, excellence, collaboration and honesty.” 

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