Tamarind Nott is an inspirational young Namibian entrepreneur on a mission. She launched her company Mbiri Natural Skincare in April 2015, but this is no ordinary skincare company and brand - it has an incredible back-story, inspired by the Himba women of Kaokoland in her country. To write the next chapter of the company’s history, and to help to realise its ambitious goals, Tamarind is launching a global crowdfunding campaign to fund the expansion of the project and to make an even greater impact on the lives of these incredible women.
Mbiri aims to support community enterprises through the direct sourcing of natural ingredients for its products. As a Namibian, Tamarind spent most of her school holidays in the Namibian desert and has always had a passion for the desert, its plants and the people. Her mother, through the NGO (IRDNC) she works for, started a project with the Himba women in Kaokoland where she was responsible for research into the traditional use of indigenous plants and also investigated ways in which these resources could be sustainably utilized. The focus of her work was on the Commiphora wildii plant which naturally exudes a resin.
The Himba women have used the resin of the Commiphora wildii plant for centuries in their traditional perfume and now they commercially harvest the resin and earn an income. After harvesting, the resin is sent to the Opuwo Processing Facility, which is owned by the harvesters, to extract the Namibian Myrrh essential oil. Mbiri was launched to support this enterprise.
Mbiri buys the essential oil directly from the factory and uses it in every product. This means Mbiri products create a demand for the oil and so more resin needs to be harvested, thereby supporting the viability of the community enterprise. The resource is abundant and the harvesting practices ensure its sustainability. Tamarind’s passion for this desert and its people motivated her to create a 100% natural skincare range that supports this enterprise. The resin is traditionally known as Omumbiri, hence the name Mbiri.
Mbiri now needs to expand the range to further support the project. However there are costs attached to this - packaging, formulations, design, endorsements, and of course purchasing the raw ingredients as well as manufacturing. A larger range of Mbiri products can have a bigger impact in this competitive industry and in turn generate more income. The community enterprise is struggling to create a big enough demand for the essential oil. Without demand they cannot reach the maximum production capacity, this is why Mbiri needs to purchase more oil. With contributions from the public, Mbiri will be able to do this and in turn contributors will be supporting these Namibian communities.
Mbiri is hoping to raise USD10 000 to expand the range and support the community factory by giving them half of the contributions from this campaign.
The expansion will introduce two new products, a body oil and a hair oil. This product development will include the costs of formulations, packaging design, purchasing packaging including labels, buying raw ingredients, paying for endorsements, and of course manufacturing. The money will be used to buy Namibian Myrrh oil from the community factory. Of every dollar that is contributed to this campaign, USD0.50 will be given to the community owned facility. The community factory needs this money to pay harvesters and to cover their operational costs. This means that if all funds are raised Mbiri will give the facility USD5000. Every person that contributes to this campaign will receive proof of the funds being given to the community facility and will also be given recognition on the Mbiri Facebook page and website.
The real impact of this crowdfunding campaign is the opportunity to support a community owned factory, the Himba women harvesters, and their incredible story.
Without the full funding Mbiri will not be able to expand the range which is imperative in generating a successful skincare range. Contributions from the campaign will support a business that supports communities. The harvesters harvest during the driest time of the year as this is when the resin is naturally exuded. This means they earn an income during times when there is a shortage of food. Women use the money earned from harvesting to buy food and access healthcare.
The portion of the money raised that will be donated to the community owned processing facility will be used to increase the intake of resin during the next harvest season. This means that income earned by households involved in harvesting activities will be greater and make a significant contribution to the food security of these communities who are currently affected by the extreme drought conditions.
"Mbiri Natural Skincare is a 100% natural skincare brand that focuses on using Namibian plant ingredients. The focus is on community based projects that harvest and process these raw ingredients."
Mbiri was launched in April 2015 and has seen great interest in the products thus far, however with a small range Mbiri's reach is limited. By creating two more products Mbiri can have a larger impact on sales and therefore purchase more oil from the community factory. Growing up with this community project has engrained a passion in Tamarind for Namibia and its people. With the support of the public and their contributions, she is looking to make this community enterprise viable and bring this story to the world.
The skincare industry is highly competitive and Mbiri faces the challenge of squeezing into this market. However with a great story and 100% natural ingredients there is a definitive gap for Mbiri. People want to buy a story not just a product, and with people becoming more conscious of what they use on their skin Mbiri provides them with a safe and natural product. Mbiri is also registered with The Vegan Society and endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty, as well as being an accredited partner of Phytotrade Africa, which a fair-trade initiative. The story of Namibia will intrigue people and create curiosity. Mbiri only consists of 4 products and it is already on shelves in Namibia and South Africa. There is a definitive interest in the product, but now, with the help of public contributions to the crowdfunding campaign, Mbiri can make an even bigger impact.
Tamarind says of the crowdfunding campaign which has days left to run, and is only 15% of the way to reaching the target:
“If you cannot make a contribution please share this story with friends and family to get the word out there. Mbiri is about Africa and its communities, so please assist me in telling their stories. Lets change the world one product at a time!”
Contact or follow Mbiri Natural Skincare
To make a contribution to this amazing crowdfunding initiative, go to the Indigogo platform https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/natural-skincare-supporting-african-communities#/