Young entrepreneurs spot on with acne treatment

Abalro chief executive officer Robert Donohue, chief financial officer Abby Green and production...
Abalro chief executive officer Robert Donohue, chief financial officer Abby Green and production director Alex Livingstone with their acne-reducing product which was runner-up in the New Zealand Young Enterprise Scheme Awards. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Zit-face has become an obsolete insult at Bayfield High School.

Ever since Robert Donohue, Abby Green and Alex Livingstone came up with Abalro, few, if any pupils have acne.

The trio created a Young Enterprise Scheme earlier this year to produce and market an Iranian super-food called barberry.

Robert said barberries contained a compound called berberine, which acted as an antioxidant, and helped to improve blood sugar control, treat diarrhoea, and fight inflammation.

Studies also showed it had a high potential for reducing acne.

For any teenager, any product that could reduce acne was worth its weight in gold, he said.

Just about every pupil was buying it.

The business recently won the runner-up award at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Young Enterprise Awards.

Abby said they were surprised to win the award.

"We were... year 12, so we weren’t really expecting it."

Inspiration for the product came from Alex.

"A year ago, my father found out about this product made from barberries, but we couldn’t get it on the New Zealand market," Alex said.

"So when the Young Enterprise Scheme came up, we decided to import barberries and make it ourselves, and be the first to sell it in New Zealand."

Robert said the barberries were freeze-dried and then ground into a powder which could be put in smoothies, yoghurt or breakfast cereals.

The product was being sold at Health 2000 in central Dunedin, and would soon be on shelves at The Good Food Co, in Mornington.

Abby said the product cost $29.99 per sachet, which lasted about a month.

She declined to say how much revenue product sales had generated so far.

"Sorry, that’s commercially sensitive. But we’ve been very successful — enough to buy our parents ‘good’ Christmas presents this year."

Alex said the company was looking for a place to freeze-dry or dehydrate their barberries in bulk.

"At the moment, we dehydrate and crush the berries up in a commercial kitchen, but we’re looking for something on a more industrial scale."

Abby said they won $3000 as part of their prize money from the Young Enterprise Awards, and they planned to reinvest it in the business next year, where they hoped to expand the product range to include a barberry facial cream.


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