Patricia Majule: Saving the Environment With Beautiful Paper Gifts

Patricia Majule started the business of manufacturing and supplying of custom party supplies, box packages, favors & gifts in 2014 and has recorded tremendous growth since then.

Her idea was born when she noticed that most people in Tanzania were importing paper supplies from abroad, instead of investing in machines becoming manufacturers. Through her business, she has been able to provide quality products made in Tanzania, at lower prices.

She takes us through her journey so far and how she’s changing the face of the Tanzanian manufacturing industry, whilst protecting the environment.


Tell us about your business and the idea behind it

My business trades as Unique Favors Tz,; we make products and provide services ranging from décor ware, gifting and gift supplies. Our products are used for parties, functions, events and can be customized for non- celebration uses, such as, business advertising and branding.

The company began in 2013 as Unique Gifts Tz, and at the time we were specialising in gifts. But, we  expanded our product line and changed the name officially, and registered as “Unique Favors Tz” in 2014.

patricia-majule

 

What ways are you contributing to the protection of the environment through your product type?

One of the products we make at Unique Favors Tz is uniquely designed cardboard, made by using the leftover egg shells from chicken eggs (maganda ya mayai in Kiswahili language).

Egg shells help curb environmental waste by reducing the waste that would have probably been increased by throwing away eggshells right after usage.

In Tanzania , eggs are consumed in large quantities due to the existence of many small scale entrepreneurs selling them in kiosks and bars, and also due to the fact that chicken livestock farming is popular in Tanzania.

Secondly, we use paper products to package gifts, as opposed to plastic.

Plastic bags are known to be a form of waste which cannot decay; which is why there has been a movement by the government to reduce and completely ban the use of plastic packaging in Tanzania. In five to ten years, my products will have contributed significantly to curbing environmental pollution.

What strategies have helped your business grow these past few years?

Very good & friendly customer care.

Continuous research and product quality improvement.

Customer feedback and follow up’s.

Great staff and business partner training.

The uniqueness of our products.

Those are just few of our strategies.

Click To Tweet

What opportunities lie in Africa and how much are young people tapping into them?

I’ve always believed that Africa is full of opportunities and many of them are hidden in industrial operations. Firstly the industrial sector is one of the most untapped sectors in Africa, especially by local natives, yet the most rewarding sector.

Majority of the youth dare to start a business with a focus on the retail phase, but they lack the courage and resilience to grow their businesses to an industrial level. Many other youth reach the idea level and fail to proceed to the implementation level.

 

patricia-majule

Tell us the setbacks you’ve faced in the course of establishing your business and your survival method(s)

 

  • Most of our product line and service offering is very new and unique to our community. Therefore, we have spent a lot of our time educating them in order to get buy-in.
  • At times raw materials which are needed for production are scarce; coupled with price fluctuations, this tends to be a challenge.
  • In our society it is not normal for people to see you developing a product and being in industrial, especially at a young age like mine, so there is a belief that somebody else could do my job better, and hence there is little support and a lot of bad-mouthing.

But ,at the end of the day our survival methods are to: be courageous, patient, and resilient and know that as long as we are being ethical and legal, everything is fine. Society will catch-up later.

 

Be courageous, patient, and resilient Click To Tweet

What great success has your business recorded in the past few years?

Our business has been successful in so many ways. Firstly, by introducing new unique products to the market, we got a very positive response from customers, which lead to significant company growth. Also we have been able to create temporary and permanent jobs to majority of the natives in Tanzania.

 

patricia-majule

What makes your business unique?

The products we manufacture in- country, the paper party supplies and the egg shell cardboards, are customised and very unique because everything is made from scratch. Most of the party supplies in our country are fully imported from China, so they tend to have common styles and lack that unique style.

Have clear and positive priorities, be consistent in pursuing your goals Click To Tweet

What are your top 3 books?

Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin graham

Getting Things Done by David Allen

 What’s the one business mantra you’d want every business owner to know?

Have clear and positive priorities and stick to them, be consistent in pursuing your goals.


What is your company doing to protect the environment?

Let us know more  here.

Anisa Mpungwe: Now clothing brands are offering a lifestyle

Anisa Mpungwe
I am African so that aesthetic cannot disappear, it will always be there - Anisa Mpungwe Click To Tweet

Anisa Mpungwe is a Tanzanian born, South African raised fashion marvel. She started her career at age 19 working for various fashion houses, magazines, and apparel factories within Africa, America, and the UK. Not a stranger on international runways, Anisa has showcased her work in fashion weeks in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Italy, Sweden and New York.

You might have spotted this Motherland Mogul’s garments on stars like Solange Knowles, Anele Mdoda, Lira, Simphiwe Dana, Amel Larrieux, Sharon Smith, and Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon. The former US first lady Michelle Obama donned Anisa’s clothing on her first visit to Johannesburg.

Anisa has won the African Fashion International Emerging Designer Award 2013 and was the MTV Transform Today Award nominee. She has collaborated with brands such as LG, SPREE, Samsung, Maserati, Converse, Nestle, BET and Bobbi Brown. You can find Anisa between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Dar es Salaam studios.

SLA contributor, Kutlwano Mokgojwa, checks in with the humble and spirited Motherland Mogul to get the lowdown on celebrating 5 years in business, creating a lifestyle brand and shipping worldwide.


It has been 5 years since you opened the door to your flagship store, what would you say you owe to still being in business today?

I think consistency is important in any business and across everything that you do. There are certain things that you must always do and always take care of. Another important thing is having a good team. There are days when you will not feel so great and you do not want to deal with customers, you can always pass the responsibility along when you have a good team and in my experience, getting a good team together takes a while.

Your brand is described as having a strong African influence, prints and modern tribal. Do you think this description limits the brand or does it open the right doors?

I think it is all of the above. People always need to relate your brand to something, whether it is an experience in their lives or something they have seen. I am African so that aesthetic cannot disappear, it will always be there. Our aesthetic will always be around the African heritage but I am also really interested in sportswear for example.

I have travelled and moved around a lot and because of that, I am able to come back and tell a story through the garments. The change in the design is not that I am trying to target a specific person but it is just where the LoinCloth and Ashes (LCA) story is.

You have paired up with vibrant talk show host and radio personality Anele Mdoda as your brand ambassador, how does she embody the LCA brand?

Anele is quite a complex woman and that is an LCA girl – somebody who is strong and vulnerable. Somebody who has something to say wants to elevate and fully enjoy her life. Anele is all those things and she is crazy too, she is completely nuts and I love her for that. I identify the LCA girl in her; she really aspires for better in all areas.

You are known to feature on a lot of runways. How do you come up with inspiration for each collection? How do you incorporate your brands aesthetic to ensure your collections are true to the LCA brand whilst still being fresh and relevant?

It has to do with what is happening for us at that time but also keeping in mind who our audience is. For example, if you do something like New York Fashion Week, what they would expect is a whole lot of bead work and when you show something else it creates a kind of shock wave.

When you take African print somewhere like Stockholm where they are known for being minimalist you will blow their mind with so much colour. Same goes for Germany or Berlin. I know we have one of the biggest client bases in Berlin and they love the print because they don’t have that sort of thing there. So when we create collections it is about flying the flag but doing so in a manner that is relevant to the audience and to the brand.

When we create collections it is about flying the flag in a manner that is relevant to the audience Click To Tweet

Since your establishment as a women’s wear brand, you have ventured into quite a number of things such as your junior wear, home décor, giving industry talks and consultations. What motivated you to head in that direction and how has that contributed to LCA being such a big brand in the fashion industry?

There was a time when you went into a clothing store and it only offered clothing but now many brands are offering a lifestyle. So if I can’t afford the dress, I can maybe afford to buy a napkin or to buy my little baby a dress.

I wanted LCA to also follow that suit because we don’t only talk about women’s wear when we are in the studio, we talk about everything else. I am not known to hide my experiences so that is where consulting and mentoring comes into play.

We are looking to celebrate feminism and rediscovering the word sexy - Anisa Mpungwe Click To Tweet

You have a new collection coming up, can you tell us more about that?

Well, I cannot say much but it is a summer/spring collection. We are looking to celebrate feminism and rediscovering the word sexy. What does it mean for LCA? It means there will be lower necklines and high hems.

You started shipping your clothes worldwide this February, how would you advise a small business owner who wants to extend their distribution in the same way?

Firstly, I think it is important for one to evaluate their international client base. A lot of research is also required. You need to research the best courier for you. For your client base, you also need to evaluate if they are ready for something like that as a business.

You have collaborated with some of the biggest brands – Bobbi Brown, MrP, Samsung – in industry, what is the importance of collaborations in the fashion industry?

For me collaborating with somebody like Samsung, it was a business strategy. I had to think, “If I align myself with this kind of company, how LoinCloth and Ashes be seen?” or which type of distant audience will it reach?

That for me is important, collaborating with brands that are aligned to what you stand for as a brand. I cannot overemphasise the importance of networking, attending events and talking to different people. That is the best way to meet people, possibly future collaboration partners.

Does it get better than having Solange Knowles sport your clothing?

I get this question a lot. People do not always realise the risk of having a celebrity wear your clothing. There is always the risk of a bigger company copying the design and mass-producing it at a cheaper or claiming that design so although it is great and has its benefits, at the end of the day it is all about the LCA customer.

Never agree on anything, rather let the supplier know that you will be in contact with them Click To Tweet

You often have to source fabrics and all, what negotiating tips can you give us?

Never go alone. Always go with someone just so you have a second opinion.

Never agree on anything, rather let the supplier know that you will be in contact with them.

Which artist’s album do you secretly own?

I do not have an album that I secretly own, but I have an album that most of my friends consider embarrassing. It is a country album. I think that was a weird phase in life.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Ngasuma Kanyeka: Creating cutting edge communication solutions

You have to have a 360-degree view of the world around you to create the type of solutions we do Click To Tweet

Known for her tenacious spirit, humor, and sharp thinking, Ngasuma Kanyeka is a Dar e Salaam based entrepreneur, strategic thinker and feminist. Her company, Capacitate Consulting Ltd creates cutting edge communication solutions for institutions and governments.

Ngasuma was involved in the creation of the national communication strategy for the oil and gas sector in Tanzania in order to manage expectations of various stakeholders. She has been an integral part of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps since its inception.

When asked which colour crayon she would be if she was added to a new crayon box her answer was RED because that describes her bold passion. Ngasuma shares her passions and entrepreneurial experiences which I hope will inspire you to harness your talents. 


What is Ngasuma best known for?

I am known for my tenacious spirit, humor and sharp thinking. Also, I am an incurable sarcastic enthusiast who loves a good play on words (I have an artistic flare). I am known for being a dynamic, strategic thinker who loves a good challenge and for lighting fire under peoples’ backside to get moving. I visualize a lot of the world and I believe we are more connected than we realize.

Oh and without wanting to change it, even if I could, I am an African, a feminist, a woman (these three are not in any particular order of priority) and fundamentally a human being. A little hippy, a little nerdy and a little cool.

What is Capacitate Consulting Ltd and what prompted you to start it?

As part of my Masters’ studies, I investigated women who prevail beyond their circumstances and manage to achieve wellbeing. This was based on a psychological theory known as Salutogenesis. I was fascinated and I learnt a great deal about women who managed to navigate their existence and lead balanced, thriving lives. I met a woman who really impressed me and made me question how I had ended up with 17 years of education and I had not recognized my own power and the endless opportunities availed to me in this world. That is what prompted me to start Capacitate.

I met a woman who really impressed me and made me question how I had ended up with 17 years of education and I had not recognized my own power and the endless opportunities availed to me in this world. That is what prompted me to start Capacitate.

From a young age, I started to volunteer my skills and expertise and enthusiasm. When I was just 16, I was running environmental campaigns with the Jane Goddall Institute. Also, I was engaged in my community from teaching kids in my neighborhood during my holiday break to running awareness campaigns to empower girls.

I have always been a busy bee, refusing to see that there were challenges too great to be tackled. I have always wanted to contribute and become a doer. That is how I ended up working as a journalist, that curiosity sparks a need to voice these issues, but my analytical side wanted the numbers to back it up and so I studied for a degree in IT. Meanwhile, I was interested in human behavior which is how I ended up studying Health Promotion. It makes perfect sense to me, but it is an upheaval of confusion for people looking at my resume. I recently got a short story accepted for publication and two poems published by a UNESCO project called Badilisha. So

Meanwhile, I was interested in human behavior which is how I ended up studying Health Promotion. It makes perfect sense to me, but it is an upheaval of confusion for people looking at my resume. I recently got a short story accepted for publication and two poems published by a UNESCO project called Badilisha. So Capacitate encompasses these passions, it is the coming together of skills and expertise that my colleagues and I have garnered through the years to create cutting edge communication solutions for institutions and governments. You have to have a 360-degreee view of the world around you to create the type of solutions we do.

Tell me something about your last job, other than money, that has inspired you to keep doing what you do.

I am actually selective about projects I take, I work through referrals. Ultimately, I want to look at myself in the mirror and be satisfied. So I have turned down several, supposedly lucrative projects that did not sit well with my value system. I did not come here to do evil.

One of the recent projects I am happy about is when I led the creation of the national communication strategy for the oil and gas sector in Tanzania to manage expectations of various stakeholders. Communities, where the oil and gas extraction activities take place, believed that they would get rich overnight. This expectation management strategy will build their understanding of the sector and also create a sense of ownership for them to make deliberate steps to benefit from the sector as it develops.

I wanted to be part of changing the narrative that natural resources are a curse, it lends too much to that narrative that Africa is a dark continent. We Africans are not cursed. We are intelligent beings that can manage, make decisions and make choices once we are informed of what our options are, like everyone else in the world we want the best for ourselves.

I am also exceptionally proud of the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps program that I have been a part of since inception, there is no greater joy than to see the endless number of African youth that has grown and thrived from it. It is truly one of the greatest programs in the world, and it has fostered a greater understanding of who we are as a people and the responsibility we have to develop this continent.

There are more than 900 youth in the past eight years that have served the continent. I think that is phenomenal. We are getting to know each other, contributing to our growth, and yes world, Africans do volunteer and they do it well! In fact, perhaps even better because we understand our context and we are more invested in seeing it become what we think it can be.

Do you think the current African environment is conducive for African youth entrepreneurs?

Not particularly, there are no handouts in this continent. Good entrepreneurs see that and look past it. If everyone could do it, then it wouldn’t be entrepreneurial, would it? It is about filling the gaps and seeking opportunities where others do not necessarily see them.

It is about shelving that endless whinny attitude that we love and do so well as Africans and employing a can-do attitude. Entrepreneurship requires that you beat the odds, most importantly the limitations of your own self-belief, the system that works around you and the support you think you deserve. No one owes you anything.

If everyone could do it, then it wouldn't be entrepreneurial, would it? - Ngasuma Kanyeka Click To Tweet

Having said that, the business environment is becoming increasingly competitive. 7 of the fastest growing economies in the world are on the continent. But our growth is still slower than it needs to be, our population size is growing just as fast and we need to make the mental switch that making businesses work is key. We are improving but not fast enough and not at the scale that we need to transform our economies.

How are all the things you do and your passions a representation of who you are?

I am known for immersing myself in the projects I work in. If I cannot feel passionate about your cause or campaign or challenge, I cannot fully commit and thus I won’t.

I am all in and burning with passion for creating the solutions that work or I am not bothered enough. Life is too short to half -ass anything.

What legacy would you like to bequeath to the next generation of youth in your country and continent?

To believe that we are greater than the sum of our challenges and limitations. This continent is a giant, and we carry it on our shoulders.

It’s up to us to determine whether we build the muscles to propel it further or buckle under the weight of its enormous pressure. Do you want it to conquer you or do you want to conquer it?

Who do you think would win a fight between Batman and Superman? Why?

Absolutely Superman. Bats just hang upside down and they downright scare me as gentle as they supposedly are. Do you know they carry viruses that are harmless to them but dangerous to us? They spread diseases! But that’s what we horrible human beings get for evading their habitat.

Ok, I am going to stop myself and just say, Superman because we haven’t invaded his habitat….yet. But Elon Musk and the rest of the world is coming for you.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Brigite Faustin: The future for women agripreneurs is blossoming

@BrigiteF founder of OBRI is seeing an increase in ambitious agripreneurs across Africa Click To Tweet

When Brigite Faustin says the future for women agripreneurs is blossoming, we believe her. The Tanzanian #MotherlandMogul is Founder and Managing Director of OBRI (T) Company. Brigite’s company makes edible oil under the OBRI brand. From raw materials to manufacturing, everything is done in Tanzania.

Brigite is a self-taught entrepreneur who has made agribusiness and human development her business. She runs OBRI company as a co-operative social enterprise, ensuring that farmers and communities are supported. Brigite wants to see more women in her industry and has suggestions on how to make this happen.


Tell us about the concept of co-operative social enterprise your business is modelled after.

Our business model lies behind the concept of co-operative social enterprise. This model promotes economic opportunities for cooperatives organizations, farmers associations and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice. The model supports smallholder farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, improve land use, increase the quality and quantity of their crops, and promote safe and efficient working practices.

The model is a win-win to both farmers and the company, as it guarantees a sustainable market channel of agricultural produce to the local farmers while offering quality raw materials to the company without stressing on price fluctuation.

How many years have you been in the industry you currently work in? How do you believe your business model will improve this industry?

I researched this industry for three years and formalized our company October, last year. I believe our business model will improve this industry because most edible oils in Tanzania are imported and sold at high price.

Majority of local companies fail to meet the required quality. Our business model emphasises quality control and value for money. We only source our raw materials from co-operative unions who are dedicated to quality.

Brigite Faustin: I researched this industry for 3 years before formalizing my company Click To Tweet

Was there a point where you didn’t take your journey seriously? What happened to change that?

Yes. Running a business is like riding on a roller coaster. Although it is fun and exciting, there will be times when you’ll be scared and feel powerless.

The first three months after I started my company, I wasn’t 100% sure that my brand will stand out in the market and survive the competition. I had limited perception of what my business is capable of! I chose to shed my illusions, understood the core value proposition in my business model and demystified the workings of the business world. Finally, I found myself achieving more than what I have ever dreamed was possible.

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What are your experiences as a woman in Tanzania’s agriculture and manufacturing sector?

My experience has been both challenging and exciting. Like in many parts of Africa, running a food manufacturing company in Tanzania is not easy. There are lots of challenges from the policy point of view to market acquisition.

The biggest challenge so far is brand awareness. Being that I am building a proudly African brand, it takes a lot of work to penetrate the market and get people in the know. I have a global plan for my brand.

Weak policy implementation and a lack of small business support is another challenge. The government and other key stakeholders have to work on this to encourage more women and young entrepreneurs to invest in the sector.

What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

Seeing my products competing with both local and international brands is the biggest highlight for me.

Some of these brands have over 10-20 years in the market!

Brigite Faustin: Our business model emphasises quality control and value for money. Click To Tweet

What keeps you going every day?

I always believe each new day brings an opportunity to get it right. I’m driven to become and remain successful.

My goal is to grow and sustain my company. As my business grows, so does my responsibilities. I see my company in the next three years growing across Eastern and Southern Africa, employing young minds and contributing to the society.

This keeps me going and pushes me to get it right every day.

Interest in agriculture is slowly growing across the continent, what do you think needs to be done to encourage more women to go into this sector?

I see an increase in ambitious, devoted and motivated agripreneurs daily across the continent. It is inspiring! Women are no longer waiting for someone to dish them riches on a platter of gold. They are ready to work for it and I am confident that the hard work will pay off soon.

Even with the success stories, a few has to be done to encourage more and more women into this sector.

Brigite Faustin: I always believe each new day brings an opportunity to get it right. Click To Tweet
1. Mentorship, coaching and role models.

I wish when I first began my business that I had a coach. Someone to learn to and take me through the journey. I would not have made so many careless and uninformed mistakes. This would have helped me save a lot of resources (time and money) and I could probably be one or two step ahead of where I am today.

Again, the more coaching and women role models there are, the more women will think, ‘maybe I could actually do this’. So hopefully, as we start to get more role models in the agriculture industry coming through, more women will think seriously about their ideas.

2. Support

As agriculture has become more commercially-orientated, the glass ceilings which held restrictions have been lifted. There are now far more opportunities within agriculture businesses for women to actively participate.

Governments have a key role to play in this relation. They should support access to land, provide financial opportunities and design friendly policies that will encourage more women to take agriculture seriously.

The future for women agripreneurs is blossoming. I think it’s high time now for women in Africa to feel confident and start to participate in agriculture for business.


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Lilian Makoi: If it is not new, risky & disruptive, we don’t put our efforts to it

Lilian Makoi
@lilly_makoi of @jamiiafrica is bringing affordable health insurance to Tanzania Click To Tweet

Lilian Makoi is doing her part to transform her country through innovative solutions. Although she’s co-founded a number of start-ups but our main focus here is Jamii Africa. Jamii Africa is a start-up that provides health insurance targeted at Tanzania’s low income population.

Most start-ups may want to target a middle-class population but Lilian sees profit in those that earn less than $70 a month. The numbers add up, that’s 47 million people compared to 10,000. When Lilian isn’t doing her best to improve the health care of Tanzanians through Jammii, she’s a mentor. Lilian and her husband form a formidable duo, recognising opportunities and investing in them.


What is health insurance like in Tanzania and how has Jamii Africa impacted on it?

In Tanzania, the penetration of health insurance is as low as 4.5% and this makes the formal sector its only population. The main reason they have health insurance is because they get it as benefit from the employer.

The middle income population that can afford healthcare financing anyways make 19.6% of the population.76% are the low income population —from the informal sector, struggling with healthcare financing.

This low income population earns less than $70 a month. For them, income is also dynamic and savings is a luxury. This population ends up facing high rate of maternal deaths, home births and deaths from curable diseases.

Jamii comes as the much needed solution to this ignored population. Our mobile technology performs all the administration activities of the insurer. Jamii is also matched in strategic partnership with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom. This helps cut insurance administration cost by 95%!

In all, this results in a health insurance product at $1 a month. It immediately makes health insurance affordable to 47 million people in just Tanzania! Jamii is already impacting the lives of over 8,000 families.

Lilian Makoi: It took us over 10 meetings to get Vodacom Tanzania’s buy in to Jamii Click To Tweet

How did you manage to crack partnerships with Jubilee Insurance and Vodacom Tanzania?

We had a great product and knew how to communicate the value we were set to bring to them as partners. All we needed was a platform to communicate this to them.

Although it wasn’t easy, we managed to get their attention through constant persuasion and personal branding to establish relevance.

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Why target the low income population in particular? How do you make a profit doing so?

We are passionate about the low income population. First, they have real problems and that means we are solving real problems. This gives us purpose and global impact in all we do.

Second, it is where the money is! We make profit, although marginal but it is income from over 47 million people compared to ‘big chunks’ from just 10,000 people!

@lilly_makoi - The low income population is where the money is! Click To Tweet

What does innovation mean to you? What would you say is unique about your approach to innovation?

We live to and for innovation! If it is not new, risky and disruptive, we don’t put our efforts or energy to it!

We believe that, it is only Africans that can change Africa for the better. So long as no one is doing anything ‘different’, we will always be a culprit of copycat products and solutions for problems that are not even ours.

We love to be pioneers to building highly innovative original solutions and understand the rewards of doing so.

What does it take to build a micro-health insurance product in an African country?

Four things;

  • A very innovative team,
  • Tons of research,
  • A great insurance partner,
  • A strong telecom partner and
  • Atop class product!
Women should understand what they are passionate about & work towards monetising it Click To Tweet

What will you need to go live in 14 other markets in Africa and impact 3 million lives in 2017?

We will need to partner with multiple local companies in these markets. These partners should already have relationships with telecom operators in their markets and have fair understanding of the insurance landscape.

We are close to finalising a partnership with two local companies outside Tanzania that have strong relationships with stakeholders in the identified markets. We expect to finalise ground work required by May 2017 and go live before the end of the year.lilian-present

You’ve co-founded two other companies, what goes into your decision to work on other start-ups? Will you advice other women to follow your footsteps?

I have co-founded two other companies and a lot more will come. I have the privilege of working with my husband who is as innovative. We enjoy researching and building solutions together, and mentoring people. We naturally spot opportunities and visualise solutions. Then we choose to either implement directly or pick young passionate talent to mentor through building these solutions.

I definitely advice women to spend time understanding what they are passionate about and work towards acquiring skills to monetise their passion. I believe women that have had the privilege to education and/or exposure pursue bigger/newer/innovative business than what we have been taught to aspire. If you can, lets change the world!


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Helen Dausen: If used well, fear can be your propeller

helen dausen

There was a time when it wasn’t easy for Tanzanian women to find a skincare product that was 100% natural and meant for the African skin. That was before Tanzanian-made African beauty brand, Nuya’s Essence came along.

Nuya’s Essence is a natural bath and body care brand that handcrafts natural products from botanical oils, butter, and herbs. The product is made from the purest botanical and non-toxic ingredients there is. Largely, the ingredients are sourced locally and from South Africa, Ghana, India, and Morocco.

Njeri Meja, our SLA contributor spoke to former beauty queen and  formulator of Nuya’s Essence, Helen Dausen. She found out more about how Helen’s beauty queen past helped her business and the steps Helen takes to improve her hustle.


What motivated you to start Nuya’s Essence?

I have always been so careful about how I nourish my skin. I think I got it from my mother. As a young girl, she would apply olive oil and pure coconut oil on my sisters and I. I had also been unemployed and needed to do something about my life.

While in college, I wondered if I could get a quality soap to complement my beauty care routine. So I went looking and found some DIY ideas for soap. I started mixing stuff at home and sharing recipes with friends. I would also tell them what to apply or what food to eat and the like.

The idea of Nuya’s Essence first gained root in my heart in April 2013. However, we didn’t start marketing it publicly until in June 2014.

How did you start?

I started small with support from my parents. I began with making handmade skincare products from the backyard at home. I sold to my mom’s salon, farmers market, pop-up shops, and friends.

Hellen 1

Did being a beauty queen help your business in any way?

Yes, it did.

As the crowned Miss Universe Tanzania 2010, people often asked about my skin and hair-care routines. That also fueled my decision to build a skincare brand.

Who is your target audience?

Actually, everyone can use my products. The marketplace is saturated with products made with harmful chemicals patronized by unsuspecting African women.

I wanted to create something great enough to be an option to the mainstream skincare products. Nuya’s Essence is for women looking to go all natural and adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Tell us more about your range of products

Our natural skincare range is formulated to work with all skin types. The ingredients are carefully selected and suited for everyone. We do not add fillers, toxic chemicals or test them on animals.

Our products are recyclable, bio-degradable, eco-friendly and safe enough to be used by kids. It can be used on sensitive skin, very sensitive and mature skin.

We produce them in small batches with our customers’ satisfaction in mind and they do serve the purpose. Did I tell you that they also smell amazing? Oh yes, they do!

Hellen 4

Currently, our product range includes natural handmade soaps, body oil, body butter, body scrub, 100% pure coconut oil, and raw shea butter. However, we keep working at developing new products.

How have you improved yourself as an entrepreneur?

I just completed a Mandela Washington Fellowship program for Young African Leaders. The intense 6-week-long program ended on the 4th of August 2016.

I worked hard at it and formed great partnerships and friendships. It was a great experience and boost for my personal and business growth. I look forward to better opportunities.

I have also done some training in natural/organic skincare formulation in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. There, I learnt the basics of formulating a perfect product. I still study online, read lots of books on the subject and strive to improve my beauty range or create new ones.

Any challenges? How do you mitigate them?

My biggest challenge so far is getting customers to believe in our products, especially women. I started using my products long before I sold them. This made me more comfortable and confident to tell other women about them. Personally, I have experienced the healing powers of plants and I have been able to achieve youthful, flawless, glowing and evenly-toned skin.

However, getting clients to believe in you is hard. To tackle this, I give free samples for trials and this has worked. They usually return with their friends and this time, they actually buy. Word goes round and we’ve done well so far.

Hellen 2

How would you advice a woman looking starting something like Nuya’s Essence?

Fear will always be a constant factor but if used well, can be your propeller.

You may never enjoy absolute support. Money may never be enough. But girl, you can rise above it all. The trick is to start with what you have at the moment and then grow in small paces.

Last words?

One of my favorite successful businessmen said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” I believe there are so many opportunities out there. You just have to be ready to take them.

Be willing to take risks and accept failure as a learning curve. The only real failure is not trying at all. After all, what’s the worse that can happen?

Always believe in something.  Personally, my hope and faith are in God.  I am at peace with myself, my work and the people around me and that helps. I set out to glorify Him in everything I do as a person or business woman.

Always have something or someone to fall back on for support. You can never go wrong with this.


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