Harriet Chebet Ng’ok was a high-flying financial manager and consultant, enjoying stints at some of the world’s biggest corporations, but is today best known as the Founder and CEO of Harriet’s Botanicals. The company is stirring a buzz among Kenyan women on social media with its indigenous remedies for, among other conditions, infertility and digestion challenges.
She lived in London for 15 years, after leaving Kenya in 1995. Ng’ok went to the London School of Economics, securing an LLB Law with a concentration in Commercial law and, later, LLM Law – International Banking and Finance.
She began a career that would see her work for organizations including JPMorgan Chase, the UK Financial Services Authority and Goldman Sachs. She has also worked as an independent consultant, and an East Africa Partner at Dwyka Projects and Equinox Global Consultants.
But while working in the infamously competitive finance hubs of the world, Ng’ok was dealing with untold pain.
“When I finished my education, I started working and started having this serious challenge with my, menstruation, a lot of pain agony, pain killers, and visiting doctors and gynecologists all the time. And it interfered big time with my work,” she disclosed in a 2021 interview.
This would drive her to seek out solutions. She was in and out of pharmacies, and tried everything from juice-fasts and yoga to massages and different painkillers. Over time started learning more about the composition of different reproductive health medicines for women and how they work.
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It wasn’t until she came back to Kenya, however, that she would discover indigenous medicines that would change the course of her life. First, it was a herbalist uncle who delivered some medicine from Webuye in Western Kenya, which, in her approximation, eased the pain during her periods by around 25%. She went on to try other remedies from the Keiyo, Marakwet and Kipsigis communities.
“Then later on during my father’s funeral, I got introduced to our own Kipsigis herbs. And there’s a lady who brought them to me because I was really suffering. It was pretty obvious something uncomfortable was happening. So when she brought them I experienced, for the first time, a painless period, like the first time in my life and that was a long time,” she revealed.
She recommended them to a friend who was headed for a hysterectomy, and she experienced her first painless period. Quickly, their social circles and Whatsapp groups started buzzing with talk of the products and their uses. Ng’ok notes that better reproductive health translates to better, more productive and rewarding lives in general – making their work crucial.
Women also started enquiring about indigenous medicines their men could use for issues such as low libido. This drove Ng’ok to undertake further research, formalize the business and expand her product line to include more indigenous remedies.
She has also grown the company’s presence with outlets in all major Kenyan cities and towns.
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