Business Categories Reports Podcasts Events Awards Webinars
Contact My Account About

How African Beauty Brands Are Empowering Local Communities

Published May 5, 2024
Published May 5, 2024
Annie Spratt via Unsplash

For a long time, many global African beauty founders whose company ethos is premised on organic beauty have gone beyond skincare and cosmetics to embracing a deeper commitment to community empowerment and social responsibility. Across the continent, this wave of beauty brands is focusing on not only redefining the standards of beauty but also rewriting the narrative of economic empowerment and social upliftment. For many of these founders, their beauty brands seek to transcend the traditional profit-driven model, to prioritizing social impact. This shift is driven by a vision that values ethical practices, supply chain, sustainable sourcing, and community development. These founders are starting to see their businesses as catalysts for positive change.

Take, for instance, brands like Hanahana Beauty, founded by Ghanaian-American Abena Boamah-Acheampong, in which local shea butter cooperatives in Ghana have become essential partners. These cooperatives, often led by women, play a crucial role in the sourcing of raw materials. Although the target was $200,000, Hanahana Beauty recently raised $136,950 from its customers looking to invest in the brand. They have also raised more than $400,000 in funding through venture capital and angel investors. “[These raises were] so important to us because while it would enable us to further grow our brand, it would also enable us to support the local communities of women we work with in Ghana,” Boamah-Acheampong says to BeautyMatter. Today, the company generates over $2 million in total sales.

By establishing fair-trade partnerships, founders of African beauty brands are ensuring that the communities involved are receiving fair wages and equitable treatment, empowering women to become economically independent and self-sufficient. This venture is intimately tied to entrepreneurship and the spirit of enterprise within local communities. In many instances, beauty brands like this are born out of a desire to celebrate indigenous beauty practices and preserve cultural heritage. Through initiatives like training programs on entrepreneurship and shea kneading, as well as mentorship, founders are nurturing fostering a new generation of local talent.

SheaMoisture, one of BeautyMatter’s top 10 best efficient brands in 2022 (Germany), and The Body Shop, are some popular beauty brands prioritizing community in Africa. Another shining example is Ewami Essentials, a nascent Nigerian beauty brand founded by Oyindamola Bernard, which emphasizes fair pay, and the importance of empowering women through skill-building and education. “When we first learned about how much these women were getting paid, we had to ensure that we re-upped the amount, especially with the economic crisis,” Bernard tells BeautyMatter. “What we then did was buy raw materials from them, have them make products [with said raw materials], then pay them to sell these products back to us,” she continues. In doing this with the local artisans and investing in vocational training, Ewami Essentials not only creates job opportunities for the local communities in Ogun State, the founder's hometown, but also preserves traditional craftsmanship.

The impact of community-focused beauty brands goes beyond economic metrics—it's about transforming lives and reshaping narratives. By prioritizing community well-being, these brands are instilling a sense of pride and ownership among local populations, challenging historical inequalities and promoting inclusive growth. Also, these impacts are extending far beyond economic empowerment, as brands are actively reinvesting in the social, economic, and natural fabric of their communities, addressing pressing issues such as giving brands access to  these local communities for working partnerships.

Sommalife is a community-led organization that seeks to champion a revolution of smallholder shea producers in West Africa. Their aim is to work with agents across Africa who source for communities in the continent, for brands looking to expand their pool of local artisans. They do this through a dedicated platform and application called TreeSyt, where agents sign up for potential working arrangements. “[One of the good things] about what we do is that profiling the farmers when we get to the community helps us have that data, so investors or anyone looking to work with the communities would have the information at hand,” Abena Siaw Kyeremeh, business developer at Sommalife tells BeautyMatter. Sommalife has connected over 90,000 producers within its network to international markets, with Europe as its major reach, increasing the income of these smallholder farmers by 22%, and protecting over 27,000 trees spanning across 1,500 acres in 60 shea parklands.

In essence, this continued growth of African beauty brands represents a paradigm shift in the global beauty industry—one that champions ethical practices, celebrates diversity, and puts people at its center. As these brands continue to grow, their impact on communities across Africa serves as a powerful testament to the transformative potential of beauty in fostering meaningful social change. As global beauty brands continue to work with communities in the continent, they show that the future of beauty lies not just in products, but in purpose—a purpose that transcends borders and empowers communities. These brands are demonstrating that when business is driven by values of social responsibility and ethical stewardship, everyone stands to benefit.


2 Article(s) Remaining

Subscribe today for full access