All natural beauty products are now the rage, and many producers are looking for outlets to showcase and sell their products as well as connect to natural products enthusiasts.\u00a0 It is against this background that entrepreneur, Boniface Makhulo, established Jipende Afrika, a platform that offers a wide range of all-natural organic products catering for both men and women. Jipende is Swahili for self love. \u201cThe inspiration behind creating this app was driven by the absence of a platform where one could get 100 per cent natural products without additives. The conception of Jipende was to target the naturalistas,\u201d he says. Although Makhulo has three physical shops in Nairobi, he decided to expand his business by going digital thanks to technology advances. He wanted to also cater for other clients worldwide. \u201cThis makes our products accessible to everyone around the world and now we are able to showcase what Africa has,\u201d he explains. Beneficial partnerships With a passion in empowering Africans and creating self-sustainable opportunities, Makhulo, a trained consumer psychologist at the Don Bosco Missionary College, realised many were complaining about side effects of using various products and saw an opportunity to tap into. \u201cI am passionate about developing opportunities, and as an entrepreneur, I identify a problem and offer a solution. After I met several people struggling with side effects of skin bleaching or searching for safe beauty products that could favour their skin and hair. I also met others who had skin diseases problems and I saw a gap to fill,\u201d he explains.\u00a0 To start the business, he got funds from his personal savings, which he actively maintained for years and a little boost from his other businesses. He started with about Sh300,000 as capital for the now successful venture. Makhulo says his business is structured on beneficial partnerships, from the source including farmers, manufactures and consumers. While most beauty apps offer a high percentage of women products, Jipende has products catering for men. \u201cThe most popular item is the beard care kit, which comes with aftershave and beard care products. Men nowadays want to grow their beard. With it comes maintenance. So what better way to do it than by using natural oils? Also popular for this target market is the guava oil, which helps with these that have bald heads and wish to experience rapid hair growth,\u201d Makhulo adds.\u00a0 For women, the fast-selling product on the app shelf is the Shea butter, followed closely by coconut oil and black seed oil. \u201cOur products are sourced from different countries in Africa including Kenya, Tanzania Uganda Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi Nigeria and South Africa.\u201d Makhulo says although the app and products have been received well in the market, there are a few challenges they face, especially when it comes to the perception of locally made products. \u201cWe still have people who prefer to purchase products from the West, specifically Europe. Of course they do not pay attention to what the products contain, but because it\u2019s from a certain area, to them, it must be legit and good,\u201d he says. He also states that despite a certain percentage of people going natural, a few still have the notion that pure organic products are expensive. Chemical analysis \u201cWhen it comes to the price point, people have this perception that natural products are costly, we could say that products we offer are pocket friendly ranging from Sh300 to Sh4,000. With the rise of skin infections and general health risks, people should be keener on what they use, natural products are medicinal and can treat different types of conditions, for example, dandruff, eczema, burns and some allergies,\u201d Makhulo urges. \u00a0 Before placing any product on the app or the physical stores, they perform chemical analysis to confirm it has natural ingredients. They do the test regardless of the product position in the market. \u201cFor us, we have standard policy that dictates, products must still go through testing irrespective of any international recognition\u201d. Competition in the market is present, but Makhulo takes it in stride. \u201cWhere there is competition, there is money and opportunity. We appreciate whatever competition comes our way because other platforms that came before and after us indirectly help create more awareness about us and our products. But we pride ourselves for being the only app offering all-natural products in Africa,\u201d he explains. One achievement Makhulo is proud of is that his products have achieved market acceptance and many clients are happy with the results they have achieved. \u201cCreating employment opportunities for 14 youths is a high for me, considering I started without any extra manpower. Also creating a platform where manufacturers can showcase their products is a win for me,\u201d he says. He advises anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur to be a good student of the market as opportunities are everywhere, especially for those willing to offer African solutions to African problems. Makhulo plans to penetrate and tap markets in rural areas by partnering with a few people to distribute these products for them. \u201cWe have recruited a few individuals and we are welcoming any new partners interested in selling these products for us to extensively penetrate a wider market,\u201d he concludes.