There is an emerging trend of local entrepreneurs – mostly women – developing their own brands.
Earlier in the year, Kenyan entrepreneur Suzie Wokabi sold her
cosmetics business, SuzieBeauty, to Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed
manufacturer Flame Tree Group (FTG) for a reported
Ksh.45m (US$445,000). Her product line includes a full make-up range as
well as application brushes. Wokabi founded the company in 2010 with
ambitions of making it ‘the MAC of Africa’.
Back then, Wokabi didn’t have many peers, but today a number of
entrepreneurs are breaking into the beauty and personal-care industry.
Some of these include:
Amagara Skincare– This Ugandan business was founded by communications consultant Siki
Kigongo, and produces a range of natural body lotions and washes. The
products are manufactured at Kampala’s Uganda Industrial Research
Institute, but some of the packaging is sourced from China.
Keyara Organics– Kenyan TV personality Terryanne Chebet is the brains behind Keyara
Organics, a producer of skin- and hair-care products. The company’s
merchandise is manufactured locally and retails at health and beauty
stores. It has also contracted a distributor that supplies outlets in
the US and Europe.
Marini Naturals– The Marini Naturals product range includes shampoo, conditioner,
hair-growth oil, curling butter, curling gel and moisturiser spray.
Manufactured in Kenya’s
capital Nairobi, the products are made from organic ingredients and
essential oils, such as tea tree, neem, castor and peppermint.
Pauline Cosmetics– Kenya’s Nelly Tuikong abandoned a career in nursing to become an
entrepreneur. It took her over four years – from 2009 to 2013 – to go
from experimenting with making lip gloss to launching her brand, Pauline
Cosmetics. When starting out, Tuikong faced all kinds of challenges,
especially in terms of importing the products from Asia. Today the
company manufactures a range of cosmetics products – including lipstick,
lip gloss, mascara, face powder, eyeshadow, and make-up brushes – that
retail at more than 40 outlets.
elsaKim– In August 2014, Kenyan Nduta Kinuthia founded nail-care products
company EL, which has a portfolio of six different nail polish products
trading under the brand name elsaKim. The products are manufactured in
Poland, and the company focuses predominantly on sales to salons and
Many of these companies cater to the growing demand for natural and
organic personal-care products. There is a burgeoning trend among black
women to wear their hair ‘naturally’ as opposed to using relaxers and
Forty year old Mize Juma Othman installs a new photovoltaic panel
on a home in Matemwe village, on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.
Othman trained for six months in India to become one of the first 13
“solar mamas” in Zanzibar, able to install, troubleshoot and repair the
While in Western cultures, it’s customary for the bride to wear white, to represent purity, that is starting to change. Many Western brides are wearing light off-whites like champagne, blush, and cream (and, of course, “something blue”). However, in many Eastern cultures, it’s common for brides to wear red, a color representing good luck.
Entrepreneur Eric Muthomi is producing manna from Kenya: gluten-free, wheat-free, low GI flour, made from bananas.
The 28-year old wasn’t looking for a solution to the rising
popularity of health food products, or an answer to the demand for
slow-release carbs when he came up with the idea to produce the flour.
Rather, Muthomi wanted to help small-scale banana farmers earn a better
living, especially for unripened fruit, which is lower in sugar
“We have a sugar cane industry, but I always wondered why we
don’t have an industry for bananas. The prices farmers get for bananas
is peanuts. It’s very unprofitable, but there were no alternative
Ed’s Note: We’ve covered Stawi before, when it first showed up in local news a couple of years ago. Good to see its hit the global headlines as well.