Small Giants: Finding Local Beauty Solutions For African Women

Published 13 days ago
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From fintech to foodtech solutions; from beauty brands to biotech infusions, FORBES AFRICA’s inaugural list of Small Giants across Africa showcases the tenacity of homegrown businesses and their impact on the communities they serve. Their pan-African CEO-founders and leaders are making giant strides in progressing Africa’s growth narrative, prioritizing ideas and innovation.

By Chanel Retief, Nicole Pillay and Oluwatomisin Amokeoja
Art Direction: Manelisi Dabata
Videography: Thabo Mathebula
Photography: Katlego Mokubyane ; Assistant: Sbusiso Sigidi | Studio: NewKatz Studio, Johannesburg 
Styling: Deneal Van Wyk
Hair & Makeup: SnehhOnline Beauty

The inspiration [for the brand] started with me [being] a woman in South Africa, and Africa, who uses beauty products,” says Portia Mngomezulu when we meet in Johannesburg for a photoshoot and interview.

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“I wanted to create a product that not only is a cosmetic product, but that gives our skin results and with ingredients that will resonate with Africans.”

When Mngomezulu gave birth to her son, she developed stretch marks that she couldn’t get rid of. Despite attempting various store remedies, she ultimately followed her grandmother’s advice and turned to Marula oil.

“I thought, as a woman, let me go and try something that is traditionally African… this African herb. I went ahead and tried the oil [and] it worked miraculously on my stretch marks. I started ‘inboxing’ my friends about the secret that I found, bottling it and selling it for ZAR100 [$5.42].”

For Mngomezulu, it was about finding local solutions for African women.

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“I honestly believe that we are homegrown,” Mngomezulu says. “Our skin is different, our climate is different. So, we need tailor-made products for our skin that are tested here with our climate, with our skin conditions. I believe that the products that are imported are not made for our skin.”

She never expected her brand to become a nationwide success, but with products that are available in over 4,000 stores in South Africa and across over 14 African countries, Mngomezulu truly believes that hers is a proudly African brand.

Her company’s revenue is ZAR250 million ($13.7 million) a year.

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