share on:

According to a Ghanaian proverb, so many things make a man love a woman in a big way. One of them is beauty. To Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka, founder and Chief Executive, Omaness Skinfood, beauty is skin deep. She is convinced that a woman is never old when it comes to the dance she knows. The only dance Ifeoma knows is how to empower fellow women and make life more abundant. She runs an only women-show; a personal care brand that encourages women to determine how far they can go.

In 2017, her NGO, AYECI Africa partnered with System Applications Production (SAP), an ICT firm to raise N5 million for the renovation of a block of six-classroom for Tolu Nursery and Primary school in Apapa-Ajegunle, Lagos State, Nigeria. Ifeoma also believes that success is a ladder that you cannot climb with your hands in your pocket. She has put her hands to work, building a community, involving women in rural areas to source for the highest grade of ingredients.

Ifeoma was featured as the only African female entrepreneur alongside 14 other influential female leaders- Hilary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyii) in the Cherie Blair Foundation 2020 Global Campaign For Women Entrepreneurs. She is a recipient of the MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth Enterprise Seed Funding.  She is an alumni of the Cherie Blair Foundation Mentoring Women in Business Program. In 2016, Ifeoma was listed in YNaijas Power List as one of the 10 most influential social advocates in Nigeria.  She was featured as one of the female entrepreneurs to watch in Africa by Leading Ladies Africa and also a recipient of the Lagos State Government Award for Advancing Youth Development.

Last week Oludare Sorunke, Publisher, BLACKWASH met with Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka to discuss about her start up business, team motivation, challenges and prospects.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY INTO SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP

I founded my first non-profit organization, AYECI Africa at age 19 while I was a student at Lagos State Polytechnic. My campus was located in a low-income community and I witnessed first-hand the lack of learning, employment opportunities and exposure that affected many young people and women around my campus community.  This became my motivation for venturing into social entrepreneurship. I founded AYECI Africa, a non for profit committed to improving the prospects and living conditions of the most disadvantaged population in Africa through a variety of interventions that expands across to education and employment opportunities and began fundraising and recruiting volunteers. With the donations and volunteer support that I got, I started organizing community outreaches, literacy centres and student work placement that benefitted the young people and women around my campus community and before graduation, I was able to expand the program to 16 communities across Nigeria.

WHY DID YOU VENTURE INTO SKINFOOD PRODUCTION?

 Before I founded Omaness Skinfood, I had spent over a decade organizing non-profit community-based interventions for women in low income and rural communities. As I worked with women, I observed that most of them did not have access to economic opportunities, or could put funds together for farming or trade and I was very worried.

 In 2016, I was gifted a tub of shea butter by one of the women who was a beneficiary in one of my organization’s community learning centre.  I had an incredible experience using the shea butter and wondered why the woman wasn’t making enough money selling her shea butter. I started asking myself how I could help women who made that amazing local produce market their products.

So, I thought that if I could get more people to know about shea butter and get them to buy then I would have created a community of women with a sustainable source of income. That was how Omaneess Skinfood was born!

I started packaging and selling Shea Butter. Today, we produce over 40 variety of skinfood products made with skinfood ingredients locally sourced by women and sold by women!

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT OMANESS SKINFOOD

When I started Omaness Skinfood, I had two goals in mind.: to build a company that leverages the use natural / local resources to create valuable products that directly impacts, enriches and bring prosperity to women. Second, to build a world-class homegrown brand that offers Africans the right skinfood products that nourish, heal and empower them to put their best skin forward.

Omaness Skinfood is the pioneering skinfood production and direct selling company in West Africa. We officially launched in 2018 and we currently have over 40 skinfood products ranging from cleansers, body buttercreams, toners, masks, serums, healing salve and more!

What makes every Omaness Skinfood product truly special is the blend of plant oils and herbs like dogonyaro (neem), zobo (hibiscus) extracts, turmeric root powder, baobab oil, neem seed oil, shea butter and other incredible ingredients you’ll find in it.

Every Omaness Skinfood product contains homegrown skinfood ingredients that are proven to nourish, naturally beautify and treat skin concerns peculiar to the African skin type including uneven skin texture, dry skin, discoloration, eczema, acne and hair disorder.

Our skinfood products are distributed and directly sold to end-consumers solely by women (skinfood merchants). This is a sales model we adopt to make women financially independent.

Ifeoma Adibe-Chukwuka, Founder / CEO Omaness Skinfood

HOW HAS THE RECEPTION BEEN SINCE YOU STARTED?

 Initially, the reception was slow because majority of our target consumers where used to foreign personal care brands, while others were interested in skin whitening products. But over the past 4 years, we have stayed true to the mission behind the brand that is “to use naturally-active homegrown ingredients to create functional skinfood products best suited for the African skin”. I must say that our consistent brand positioning is gradually paying off, as the reception has improved compared to when we started.

HOW DO YOU SELL YOUR PRODUCTS?

Our skinfood products are sold directly to consumers solely by our Authorized Skinfood Merchants. We adopted this sales model to enrich women financially. Rather than sell our products through conventional retail outlets, our skinfood merchant system allows us interact directly with our consumers and also ensures we are able to put money into the hands of women who sell our products every day.

HOW HAS THE INFLUX OF FOREIGN BRANDS AFFECTED MADE IN NIGERIA PRODUCTS?

This question should actually be the other way around. We have always had an influx of foreign brands in the Nigerian market but over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the production and consumption of made in Nigeria products. In the coming years, this development will cause a decline in consumption of foreign brands.

HOW DID YOU PROMOTE THE IDEA OF YOUR BRAND AND INCREASE PATRONAGE FOR YOUR SKINFOOD PRODUCTS?

A core part of what we do as a brand is to engage in conversations and promote narratives that educate our consumers and the general public on the need to celebrate our roots, embrace our natural beauty and the benefits of consuming our skinfood products. This has helped us in growing a community of fans and consumers that are loyal to the Omaness Skinfood Brand

HOW DID YOU RAISE FUNDS FOR YOUR BUSINESS? DO NIGERIAN BANKS RESPOND TO SMES?

 I started Omaness Skinfood with my personal savings and due to constraints of funds, I had to set up a small cottage operation from my home. Everything, from production, labelling, packaging was done from my home for about 1 year before moving to a five (5) room production facility we currently operate from.

Before we moved facility, I shared my business plan with one of my mentors who contributed part of the capital we needed to move our operations. We also secured an early-stage seed grant from Mastercard in 2020.

I’ve not approached any bank for funding, but I am aware that there are banks offering credit facility to SMEs

HOW DO YOU DRIVE YOUR TEAM FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE?

 I communicate with members of my team regularly. I never get tired of

communicating the vision of the company and ensuring that every member of my team takes ownership of their role. As a leader, I focus on identifying the strengths of my team members and matching them with roles that enhance their productivity. Also, I set goals and reward performance. People are naturally driven by targets and when they know there’s a reward attached; they are motivated to perform better!

CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES?

 First, one of the challenges we encounter at Omaness Skinfood is the sourcing of our raw materials. Our business model at Omaness Skinfood is skewed at ensuring women are key players and direct beneficiaries in supplying our raw materials. However, because majority of these women are rural dwellers with limited access to mechanized processing equipment, we face the challenge of sourcing bulk materials within a short time.

We also face the challenge of rising cost of fuel, electricity, logistics which affect cost of production.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR BRAND IN THE NEXT 5 YEARS?

In the next 5years, I see Omaness Skinfood with an established network of over 1,000 skinfood merchants selling our skinfood products across Nigeria and other key markets across Africa.

share on:
Black wash

Black wash

Blackwash is home to news, events, entertainment, inspiration and the rich cultural assemblage of the man and woman of colour. Blackwash echoes the beauty, struggles and successes of black people in Nigeria and diaspora. Every day, Blackwash publishes contents that impact lives spiritually, intellectually and professionally. Blackwash is powered by PROJECT MANAGEMENT HUB BN 2522711.

Leave a Reply

share on: