It was Benjamin Quansah who said Africa doesn’t know what she has because everything the world needs is in Africa.
One cannot agree less because it takes an entrepreneurial mind to see an untapped goldmine and latch onto it where others are not seeing it.
One person who has seen hers and whose story we can draw inspiration from is Akwa Ibom State born Kusin Ekanem, a female Nigerian, who found gold three years ago in natural products when she least expected it.
She did not let go of her discovery, instead, built a business around it and today she is a certified skincare expert and founder, Missy Natural Cosmetics, a proudly Nigerian brand that has brought succor to those who have challenges with their skin and hair.
Kusin Ekanem’s brand is all about natural organic skin and hair care products for all types of African skin and hair.
Explaining how it all began, Ekanem, with a background in insurance and educational psychology revealed that about eight years ago, she had a skin discoloration that compelled her to go back to her village to seek for immediate solution. Little did she know she was going to unearth an idea that would make her find her path in entrepreneurship.
“It all began in 2012. I had this skin discoloration that forced me to journey to my village to stay with my grandmother, a midwife, who introduced and prescribed the use of blacksoap for bathing. Infact, that was the first time I came across blacksoap.
My grandmother gave me the soap to use to bath and in a short while, my skin were back to normal like a new baby. Interestingly, in my tribe, blacksoap is usually recommended to women who just gave birth. It’s for beautification and clearing of all skin conditions that may have been caused by the pregnancy hormones.”
Ekanem said along the line, she discovered the soap constituent were suitable for use on anyone’s skin. Then, the idea struck her that she could equally recommend the use of this soap to help others with skin conditions.
She says:”In 2013, while I was back in school, I recall my roommates knew I had this blacksoap that made my skin glow. Secretly, they craved for an opportunity to use the soap. And not too long I observed that they had began to use it mostly when I am not around. But due to the nature of the soap, someone can’t use it and you don’t notice. She disclosed. ”
The natural beauty expert says she had no choice but to begin to sell the soap for as low as N100 to her friends as well as hostel mates. She added that demand soared to the extent that people began asking for wholesale purchases which eventually led to coming up with a distribution plan for those who wish to resell.
Today, from a single product brand, Missy Naturals has birthed several range of natural organic products such as natural soaps, body moisturizers, deodorants and Talc-free baby powder.
“By 2019, the desire to take our products into the larger market grew. This prompted me to get the necessary NAFDAC approvals for all the products.
However, our goal has always been to give natural solution at the best and affordable prices, so the average person can benefit.”
The female entrepreneur says the brand has held several empowerment trainings as a way of adding value to the economy. Currently, it holds a professional training to direct other SMEs to get accurate information on getting their products certified, approved, standardized and also how get their made in Nigeria products into the market.
“My dream is to see Nigerian products have a good market share in the African market. As at today, we have about 10% of Nigerian skincare products in the market.
I desire strongly to contribute to the the growth of Nigeria’s economy. I want to see natural alternative to skincare products sold such that the average Nigerian can benefit from it. She says.”
Sharing insight on economic empowerment, Ekanem disclosed that her brand has created a scheme to share their wealth with partners and customers.
“We have had empowerment trainings for some non-governmental organizations such as; Save our Girls and Women Foundation ( SOW&G Foundation), Nigerian Ambassadorial Foundation for Rural Development,Amazing Amazon initiative, Life plus, just to mention a few.”
Speaking on her achievements since inception, she noted that she had embarked on some professional courses from School of Natural Skincare formulation, UK, Personal institute of cosmetic science among others.
She added that NAFDAC registration and approvals of her products are no doubt part of her achievements.
She says this has made the brand gain acceptance in many departmental stores in the market today. Missy Naturals products are currently in about six States in Nigeria.
Explaining some of her challenges, she says, one major challenge is people’s perspection about products made locally. She advised everyone to be be proud of whatever comes out of Africa.
She equally mentioned the issue of funds. “Raising funds for large production has been one of our challenges but we are gradually overcoming it. She discloses.”
She concluded by a way of encouragement to young aspiring and budding entrepreneurs, saying the markets is too large to accommodate new ideas they may have and that they should think of how to get to the top.