Faculty in Focus - Humanities
Founder: Besa Musama
Africa’s rich flora celebrated by skincare entrepreneur.
Inspired by her Zambian homeland Besa Musama has harnessed Africa’s natural beauty bounty to launch her own skincare line.
Kutemwa Skin uses the botanicals found from Cape Town to Cairo in a new range of skincare products for people of colour.
The launch collection includes five step-by-step skincare products – a gentle cleanser, hydrating toner, serums for dry or oily skin and moisturiser – which use the natural power of African plants.
Baobab oil, shea butter, red bush tea, coconut and marula oil and aloe vera sourced from different African countries form the backbone of the natural skincare line.
Besa said: “Having grown up in Zambia and travelled around Africa, it really inspired me to utilise the simple and natural botanical ingredients I grew up around to create finished products.
“There are natural healing properties from all these different plants and I really wanted to use those to create products but also explain the story behind them and how powerful and potent some of these natural African ingredients can be.
“I want to tap into a diverse market and reach underserved communities which is people with deeper skin tones, who tend to find it difficult to find products for them.”
Kutemwa Skin, which is a Zambian word for love, manufactures its products in the UK then sells direct to customers via its e-commerce website, pop up markets and black business events. Besa made her first sale in April 2022 and the business has grown organically since then through social media and word of mouth recommendations.
Besa’s enterprise journey – from keen amateur with a bright idea, to business owner with an online selling platform – began as she completed her Masters degree in Marketing at The University of Manchester in 2020.
She joined the Start-up visa programme run by MEC which offered mentoring and support to her embryonic business idea to start an African inspired beauty line.
Besa said: “I knew there was a gap in the market for natural skincare for skin of colour but I had to prove to MEC that the idea was innovative, viable and scalable.”
Kutemwa Skin was subsequently awarded an Entrepreneurial Scale Up award and Kickstarter grant which helped get the start-up off the ground funding costs like the initial set up of the business, company registration, opening a business bank account, branding and marketing, logo and packaging and some ingredients for product formulation.
“That initial cash injection for my business was very very helpful and MEC were very proactive in making sure that I was OK, especially in the first few months, and finding out what kind of support I needed, said Besa.
“They also introduced me to an accountant and lawyer to help with business finances and contractual obligations”
Besa was also paired with a mentor who took her through, step-by-step, what she needed to think about as a business owner – from how to manage cash flow to getting people to visit the Kutemwa Skin website.
She said: “Having a sounding board to share the obstacles and challenges I was facing was invaluable. I would send an email or talk to my mentor and he would give me suggestions.
“Having someone to problem solve with was so helpful. I always felt like I could ask them anything, even the silliest question, and I had someone who would support me.
“I’ve developed a lot of skills about how to start a business, what areas I need to pay attention to, what’s my route to market, how am I going to bring in new customers and what marketing techniques am I going to utilise.
I have definitely developed my financial and marketing skills and just my general confidence in running the business throughout this two year period that I’ve been working with MEC has really grown.Besa Musama / Founder, Kutemwa Skin
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