Tia Organics, founded by Portia Kampota- Munhuweyi, is a Zimbabwean startup producing organic cosmetic products that are not only good and healthy for hair and skin but also environmentally friendly.
Portia, a pharmacist from the University of Zimbabwe and a social entrepreneur worked in the manufacturing industry for some time then realized the emerging trend in the hair care industry for the preference of organic and less harsh hair products.
The founder talked to TechMoran and this is what she told us.
How did you come up the idea of starting your company?
When I learnt about the growing trend in the multi-billion dollar hair care industry for preference of organic and less harsh hair care products, all my passions i.e. my love for business, my love for cosmeceutics, my love for hair, my entrepreneurial nature and my working experiences in the manufacturing industry were brought together as if by a huge magnet and I decided to start immediately my own personal care brand.
Did you get any help with setting up the company?
No, I didn’t. I started with the little savings I had.
Tell us more about your products and services and your target clients if any?
Currently, our product portfolio includes:
Shampoos and ConditionersFormulated with cutting-edge, proven active ingredients high end latest technologies in hair care are synergized with natures finest oils for hair care. Multicultural ingredients – different races have different textures and therefore some conditioners work better on certain textures than others. In the past, most shampoos and conditioners were mainly designed and effective for Caucasian hair. The shampoo and conditioner contain ingredients engineered to produce versatile performance makes it suitable for all markets and hair types i.e. African, Caucasian, Indian, etc…Sulfate-free, silicone-free and paraben-free products According to Mintel, a global and award-winning provider of Market Research, this is trending and becoming more preferred.
100% Organic Oils
For those who wish to experience the unadulterated power of natural oils and use them as they please. Natural oils have been known as beauty assets that are gifts from nature itself. History shows they have bee used by the legendary beauty queens of all times, the famous Egyptian beauty queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti and even Queen Esther from the bible.
Any future products?
We are certainly going to have a wider variety of haircare products such as gels, sprays, deep treatments etc. and also in the future we will have more skin care products that will include natural oils found globally and also particularly African oils native to Africa.
What are the market opportunities for beauty companies in Africa?
The majority of the African women in the middle class is gaining more spending power as higher education allows them to pursue top careers previously regarded as suited for men. In turn, they have surplus income to keep up with latest fashion trends and hair trends such as the natural hair movement. And as typical of women a huge chunk of their excess income will be spent on personal care and beauty counterparts. Furthermore, women do get spoiled by their male counterparts (brothers, boyfriends, uncles and husbands) who also spend directly or indirectly on hair care products by giving them cash or buying the products as gifts. (Iwouha, 2013)Cosmetics and beauty products have become a basic need for the African population. The customers fuelling demand for such products are Africas young population which is also the middle class that is fashion conscious. 300 million on the continent meet this description and are the potential customers. (Iwouha, 2013)
How big is the cosmetic industry in Africa?
The African beauty business is a multi-billion-dollar industry. A study by Euromonitor revealed that only 3 countries in one of the poor continents in the world, Africa spent 1,1 billion dollars on hair maintenance alone. Even, the cash-constrained Zimbabwean government was shocked when it learnt that in 2013 alone Zimbabwean women spend 13 million USD on imported hair products alone not taking into consideration those made locally. (Matambanadzo, 2014)
The beauty industry is quite competitive especially with the presence of international brands in the market. How unique are you from them and how do you plan to beat them?
While most international brands are either high-tech only or organic only or for specific hair types for example designed for Caucasian only. We acknowledge and do not ignore, continuous R&D that goes on in the haircare industry therefore through strategic partnerships we also tap into these just like what international brands do and take a step further to synergize these with nature’s powerful ingredients.
Furthermore, our shampoos and conditioners are multi-textural i.e. engineered and designed for African hair, Indian hair, Caucasian hair etc. Multi-textural hair products are an upcoming trend and still there are few products on the market and we were quick to jump on the tide of this upcoming trend. Also, our range is going include more products African oils.
Globally, even though there many products with natural oils very few African oils are still being used despite their increased demand. Most of these African oils are native to sub-Saharan Africa. For international brands that manufacture internationally they would have to import these meaning they will be more expensive while for international brands that have local presence they usually find the sourcing of some oils such as those from wild trees in remote areas quite difficult and this could be one of the reasons why they avoid such oils. This opens opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
What obstacles have encountered so far and what advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs in Africa and especially women? Introducing a new brand is always very difficult. As a small company with a new brand, getting my products to be listed and sold in big chain supermarkets was a challenge.
However, even a big tree with very hard wood will always yield to the persistent and consistent hits of a small axe. Also, our everchanging unpredictable economic environment makes it very difficult to operate and grow but I continue to sail above the tides. For this reason, I want to grow my business beyond borders so that its not affected by economics of a single country.
To upcoming entrepreneurs be patient, do not be quick to quit, persistent, dream big and do not have limited vision. To the girl child and women, dream big, do not rash into child marriages, raising a family is very good but not the epitome of achievement since it can be done concurrently with other things. Surely, we were also created with a bigger purpose. Let us contribute to breaking the vicious cycle of poverty in Africa
What is your advice to youth facing the challenge of unemployment in Africa?
Use the education you have to create, improve existing concepts or find any means of competing for a portion of the market with existing products and services and not just do nothing and complain that no one is employing you. Do not wait for someone to come and give you starting capital, start with what you have. Be humble enough to do menial jobs to raise capital if really you have nowhere to start.