RAY Cosmetics

RAY Cosmetics

Finding beauty in the least possible places

RAY Cosmetics

Female-led start-up from Ethiopia, RAY Cosmetics, extracts collagen from fish skin waste for production of skin and hair-care products. In that way, the start-up not only uses agro-waste and prevents it from contaminating local water resources, but it also focuses on an affordable natural-based cosmetic products and supports local communities. For these reasons, RAY Cosmetics has been chosen as the ISC3 Start-up of the Month for October 2022.

Year of Foundation:


Addresses the following SDGs:

SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 12 (Responsible production and consumption), SDG 14 (Life below water)


3 young founders from Ethiopia in the laboratory posing for picture
RAY Cosmetics team in the lab.
2 diverse persons in festive clothes awarding young female founder from Ethiopia with a check. Wall with sponsor logos in the background
Job Creation Commission awarding RAY Cosmetics for winning the National Bruh Business Idea Competition.
cosmetic products in different bottles and packages
RAY Cosmetics products
Young female founder from Ethiopia in front of roll-up of her company
RAY Cosmetics CEO and co-founder Rewla Ephrem.
Group of diverse young people from Ethiopia cleaning the fish waste from production industry outside.
RAY Cosmetics team working with local women and youth in the fish production industry.

Turning fish waste into valuable cosmetics products

“Bahirdar is one of the most beautiful cities in Africa, and this is because of its natural water resources from the Blue Nile and Lake Tana, giving it such a picturesque setting. These resources have been popular tourist areas for many, including us during our stay at Bahirdar University. But every time we visited Tana, the smell and unappealing sight of fish wastes discarded into the lake bothered us, and we agreed that something needed to be done,”
Rewla Ephrem (CEO and co-founder of RAY Cosmetics) starts. After graduation from Bahirdar University, 3 friends, Yared Assefa, Abrehame Dessie and Rewla, joined the Business Incubation Techno-Entrepreneurship Center (Bitec) at the university. In the deep aspiration of solving practical community problems and reducing unemployment through their solutions, they founded RAY Cosmetics in February 2021. The name of the start-up includes Amharic word “RAEY” which means ‘’to see’’ and they believe that beauty can be found in the least possible places and we just have to open our eyes to see. So they did and use fish skin and scale waste collected from the Lake Tana and other local fish processing facilities as a raw material to produce skin and hair care products. The team includes three BSc Mechanical Engineering graduates, two with additional General and Business Management education, and one graphic design and 3D modeling expert. The needed expertise in Dermatology is brought in by a senior dermatologist on the advisory board. Driven by their innovative idea, they learned necessary Chemical Engineering and Dermatology skills combined with Food Waste Management to bring their solution to the market.

Valuable protein from fish skin waste

As mentioned above, RAY Cosmetics uses fish skin and scale waste as a raw material for production of skin and hair care products.
“Seventy percent of our skin contains a protein called collagen, and it is that part of our skin that gets damaged whenever we get bruises, wounds and even when we age. The abundantly found fish skin waste contains this protein as well,”
Rewla explains. RAY Cosmetics' products are likely to have supplementing, wound healing, moisturizing, anti-aging, and detoxifying properties for skin . Compared to other products on the local market, which are mostly imported and linked to long chain marketing and delivery sets, RAY Cosmetics offers an affordable solution with focus on quality, easy delivery, enviromentally friendly production and supply chain processes. Beyond that, they collaborate with different local stakeholders such as youth, women, Fish Corporation, and Job Creation Commission to ensure a sustainable entrepreneurial practice.
“Keeping a sustainable ecosystem matters to our business from raw materials, through the entire production process, and marketing as well,”
Rewla states. And so, they collaborate for example with start-ups in their packaging and marketing segments and with local women who collect the fish waste from the lake Tana.

Next steps at RAY Cosmetics

RAY Cosmetics tested already their product on the local market and received positive feedback. Currently they are focusing on increasing their sales and are looking for partnerships in different dimensions as branding, marketing and funding. Their mission is to be the trusted, leading and all-inclusive personal care and cosmetic producer both locally and internationally, supporting sustainable fish processing and consumption, and ensure healthy personal care treatments. With their innovative solution, RAY Cosmetics, who is one of the ISC3 Innovation Challenge Finalists 2022, actively contributes to SDG 3 (Good health and well-being), SDG 12 (Responsible production and consumption), and SDG 14 (Life below water).